Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

Being Shaped by God’s Grace in the Midst of Addiction

Being Shaped by God’s Grace in the Midst of Addiction

Gary Morland, author of A Family Shaped by Grace, describes how God's incredible grace saved him from alcoholism and redeemed his family.


Gary Morland: …She would mention some little thing and it wouldn’t be anything, but I would overreact even after I was a believer. I would overreact and get defensive and get mad at her, when it wasn’t anything that deserved anything like that.

End of Excerpt

John Fuller: Well, most of us probably have a family relationship that is strained. Whether it’s a marriage or it’s a parent-child relationship or maybe just a distant relative. You don’t quite get along. This is Focus on the Family. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller. And our guest today is going to offer you some hope and peace for your family.

Jim Daly: John, Gary Morland is here with us today. And he spent 20 years of his life in what he called the “Rocky Rapids,” and then 20 years in a peaceful journey with his family. Uh, obviously, we can learn from both of those situations. And I love talkin’ to people that have kind of lived in these two areas, where their life was in shambles – it was a difficult moment, but things led the way forward. And, uh, God, I know, is an integral part of that in Gary’s case. And I love that story where He shows up and life continues to make a better turn. We’re gonna hear that today with our guest.

John: And, Gary is a radio host. He’s a friend of mine. He’s been a professional communicator for over 30 years and has written a great book about his experiences and how they can relate to your family. It’s called, A Family Shaped by Grace.

Jim: Gary, welcome to the program.

Gary: Thank you guys. Thank you for havin’ me.

Jim: Gary, let me start right here. Uh, we have this tension, and we’re gonna unpack your background and what you’ve learned in life. And you’ve been married to your wife Brenda for 40 years – right? – over 40 years.

Gary: Forty-five alm… – 45 next month.

Jim: OK, so I mean, you – you have lived it. And I love somebody who once told me when I was, like, 25 and he was probably 50, and he said, Jim, you know what, I’ve been 25, but you have not been 50. (Laughter). And so I’ve got some wisdom for you.

Gary: Sure.

Jim: Will you listen to me? And I love that. And that’s kind of this story. We want you to listen today because Gary has lived through some things that I think can help you. I want to start here, though, this idea of a family shaped by grace. We have these two tensions, especially in Christian homes, between the discipline and the grace. And, you know, depending upon our personalities, we tend to be on-off switches. We wanna be all grace or all discipline. And that’s not life, is it?

Gary: I think depends – it depends on what we mean, also, when we say grace. Grace doesn’t mean, oh, that means I let someone do anything they want…

Jim: That’s good.

Gary: …as much as they want, anytime they want. Well, that’s not necessarily what grace means. Grace, you could say – I mean, there’s a lot of definitions we could give, but one of them might be grace would mean when I’m always going to be acting in that person’s best interest. And it’s not in their best interest that they get away with this, or that they behave this way, or that they don’t suffer consequences. And so, I’m gonna give them grace, by just letting those things play out and letting them suffer the consequences, or by me disciplining to try to keep them from having to suffer consequences later on, because that’s what the job is inside the home, right? So that the outside world – your neighbors and your workplace and the authorities don’t have to deal with it. We’ll teach you that there’s consequences inside the home. I think that’s grace, too. But, yeah, that’s – that’s a great question, Jim, because it’s like, well, I don’t want to be a doormat.

Jim: Right.

Gary: OK. (Pause) When Jesus went to the cross for me, and died and suffered great pain and rejection on my behalf, even though I deserved it, was He being a doormat? Well, no. He was being generous. He was being sacrificial. He was doing something that was for me, and that fulfilled His purpose and His calling with His Father. He wasn’t being a doormat. Did I deserve what He got? Yes. Did I deserve for Him to rebuke me, or for him to scold me, or for Him to correct me and say, “when you shape up and you deserve it, then maybe I will do this great sacrifice for you.” No. He did that voluntarily, sacrificing for my good and what was in my best interest. And so, I guess I think of grace in a way – in the same kind of way.

Jim: I like that. I’ve often thought of parenting in that – in that perspective. You know, God is the perfect Father. And, so much of this life mirrors his relationship to us, whether it’s in our marriages, or in our parenting. And He was a perfect Father, and He had two wayward children, right? But, let’s open up the listeners’ hearts and minds to you. Your life started very rough. I mean, it did mellow out or take good turns, but describe your early years and where you were struggling and why.

Gary: Well, it was normal to me because – it was normal, fairly middle-class upbringings. So it was just normal to me. I didn’t realize till later that it probably wasn’t normal. I mean, I think it’s normal for, you know, there to be arguments, disagreements at home and dysfunction and all that.

Jim: Sure. There’s always a bit of dysfunction.

Gary: Sure.

Jim: ‘Cause we’re imperfect.

Gary: We don’t want it to be the major part of our home, though.

Jim: (Chuckling) Right.

Gary: I think it probably was in ours, and to a big degree. Now, my dad was an alcoholic, and his dad was an alcoholic, and his dad’s dad left the family. And so I think, you know, our families are like a river – right? – and – and things are flowing that affect us that happened way downstream. And I’m sure my grandfather – Pop’s father – leaving his family affected Pop, probably influenced how he ended up being a heavy drinker. And Pop, being a drinker – my grandfather – probably influenced his son – my dad – to him being a heavy drinker. So we – we understand that we get the way we are – there’s reasons why we get the way we are. But that doesn’t let us off the hook.

Jim: So push the story forward. You talked about the – the heritage of the drinking pattern in your family. On your 21st birthday, what did your dad decide to do?

Gary: Ah. He said, “we got to go to The Cozy.” So we go to The Cozy.

Jim: And The Cozy was?

Gary: It’s a lounge, you know.

Jim: You know, what do you think he was trying to accomplish with that?

Gary: I don’t know. He was probably trying to bond with me in his way.

Jim: Was it the manhood, uh, launch?

Gary: Maybe, yeah. In his eyes, that’s what you did.

Jim: So what path did that set you down, though?

Gary: That set me down to where later on, after a few months, I remembered, you know, I could – I’m 21. I could go out and buy alcohol. And so I did. And I started – basically, I drank 3 quarts of beer a day for 14 years.

Jim: For 14 years. And you were married to Brenda some time…

Gary: It was about time that we started getting married and became a growing – it had nothing to do with me drinking.

Jim: Right.

Gary: But it was about the same time, yeah.

Jim: What was life for you like? Was it like your mom and dad and your grandpa and your grandmother? What – what was shaping up?

Gary: Well, ended up being…ended up being sort of like that. I mean, I had learned dysfunction. I learned how to be dysfunctional. I learned how to argue. I learned how to be selfish. I learned how to be very, very defensive. I learned how to be offended. I was an expert at all that. Those are like, you know, I call those the – the, uh -seven deadly sins, I guess you could call it.

Jim: And we’re gonna cover some of those in a minute.

Gary: We grow up – we grow up living that way and learning those things.

Jim: Yeah.

Gary: So that’s how I learned. And guess what, Brenda learned the same thing. And guess what, she brings all of her dysfunction to our marriage. I bring all of my dysfunction to our marriage. And we have a dysfunction party, for years.

Jim: For 14 years.

Gary: For years, yes. Now during that time, she became a believer.

Jim: So, Brenda became a believer, first?

Gary: Yeah.

Jim: How long into your marriage did that happen?

Gary: Not too long. A few years.

Jim: OK.

Gary: Four or five, maybe. Trying to think – think, think, think.

Jim: So, you went a number of years as a married couple.

Gary: Yes, yes.

Jim: Brenda’s a believer. You’re drinking. And you’re not a believer.

Gary: Yes.

Jim: What were those years like? How did Brenda treat you? How did you react to her?

Gary: She – her early part of our years, she was going to church, and that – I was OK with that. That was – that was OK. She’d take the kids. Church is a good thing. That’s a good thing. She tried to take me, and it’s like, well, I can’t drink if I go to church. I mean, Jim, I’m drinking every day.

Jim: Right.

Gary: I’m drinking pretty much all day. I didn’t drink when I went to work, but all the other times – like Sunday, that’s not a work day, so that’s a drinking day. I can’t go to church.

Jim: You know, Gary, what’s really interesting to me – and my dad was an alcoholic as well, but the way you describe it, it sounds almost recreational for you.

Gary: It was.

Jim: Like, it was just something I did because my dad did, my grandpa did, and my great grandpa did.

Gary: Oh, it was total – it’s gonna make you feel good. Why do we do things? We like to feel good.

Jim: I mean, it’s such a unique perspective on it, ‘cause most people are drinking out of sorrow.

Gary: Maybe.

Jim: Trying to bury something.

Gary: Or maybe there was some of that, too. But I was – it was always an enjoyable thing. But I also knew – I – after a certain point, I knew I was an alcoholic. I knew I couldn’t quit, because I kinda had tried. And I would look at Brenda, and she never drank, or anything. And I would say, how can you – I didn’t tell her this out loud, of course – how do you do that? How do you go through a day – every single day sober?

Jim: What word would you use to describe that? Was it curiosity, or guilt?

Gary: Amazement.

Jim: Amazement. Interesting.

Gary: I didn’t know how you could do that.

Jim: Huh.

Gary: How can a person – because my whole – pretty much once I turned 21, I mean, your brain’s not fully formed – right? – until you’re probably early 20s – right?

Jim: Right.

Gary: So, my whole adult life up until the age of 37 was imbued with alcohol, and pickled. So that to me, it was amazing that someone would – could – how do you function? How do you think? How do you get through a day? What do you think about during the day if you’re not – don’t have alcohol in you?

Jim: And part of your story, Gary, this is really interesting, because you woke up one day, and you decided to be different. You weren’t a believer. But, describe what happened when you decided, “I’m not gonna drink anymore,” and why.

Gary: Actually, I got wore out, because being an alcoholic is really hard. Especially if your wife doesn’t know how much you’re drinking, and you don’t really want to have a conversation about how much you’re drinking. And so, that means I have to drink outside the home some. And so, what I would do is when I would – when I would take trips and I would run errands. Oh, I was such a nice guy. “Baby, you need me to go to the store for you? I’ll go to the store.” Meanwhile, I would down two cans of beer, or a quart, while I was out. And it would take me too long to get back home – right? – ‘cause you can’t drink it that fast. And she would get mad at me. And this is terrible. This is horrible. This was a huge hurdle in our relationship, especially for how she’s made. I would lie to her, and I would tell her, “Baby, that’s just how long it takes.” And she would…

Jim: But she knew.

Gary: She knew something wasn’t right.

Jim: Right.

Gary: But, I let her – this is so bad. This is so horrible. I let her believe that maybe she was crazy.

Jim: Huh.

Gary: I let her believe that. No, this is how long it takes. And, it’s so much work, and you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays. And that’s the way it was there. And you have to time – you have to always – when you’re addicted, you have to make – I wasn’t physically addicted. Thank God I never got physically addicted. “Oh, then you weren’t an alcoholic.” Oh, I was an alcoholic. I was consumed – consumed with making sure I always had enough. And so that’s a lot of work. How much do I have? Will I be able – how can I drink enough that I get enough that it doesn’t look like I’ve got so much alcohol there – beer – that Brenda’s gonna start talking to me? It was a real rough game. It was hard work. And one day, I came back, and she got – then it started again. She said, “how can it take you so long?” And I was so tired. I’d been doing this for so long. I said, “Brenda, I’m an alcoholic.” And I don’t know how I said that. By the grace of God, I said that. And I did not know Jesus yet. I’m an alcoholic. And she had always said, “I will never be married to an alcoholic.”

Jim: Huh.

Gary: And she has just found she is. And she did the very thing that I would say she shouldn’t do, but that she should do. And the thing that she did was she did not – if she had only gotten mad, if she had only argued…

Jim: What did she do?

Gary: She said, “Oh, no, not you.”

John: Mmm…

Jim: Huh.

Gary: Jim, that broke my heart.

Jim: Because you broke her heart.

Gary: It broke my heart. I thought – because that just left me with my sin. I wouldn’t have called it sin at the time. That left me alone with my problem. And inside, I knew, why don’t you argue with me and get mad, ‘cause if you could argue with me and get mad, there’s a lesson in this, right? Then, I can argue with you back, because you’re not perfect, either. And if you’ll argue with me, at some point, you’re going to say something that I’ll be able to argue with you back. I’ll be able to get mad at you. I’ll be able to point out your imperfections. And then we’ll go back and forth, and I won’t have to think about my drinking. But if you’re just gonna have a broken heart and not say anything, now it’s just me and that stupid beer.

Jim: Mm…

John: Hmm… Well, quite a story we’re hearing today on Focus on the Family from Gary Morland. And, uh, you can read about his story in the book A Family Shaped By Grace: How to Get Along with the People Who Matter Most. We’ve got that and a CD or download of our conversation at

Jim: Gary, I want to ask you now, because you’ve done this out of your own strength really, and Brenda’s conviction. Where does God come into the picture? It’s not until a few years later, right?

Gary: It wasn’t in my own strength. I had already tried to quit.

Jim: OK.

Gary: I had tried to quit.

Jim: So you’re correcting that part of the record (laughter).

Gary: At that moment when she said, “Oh, no, not you,” a little voice in my head said, “well, I guess you won’t be drinking any more today.” You know, the rest of today, you won’t be drinking.

Jim: So that was the start.

Gary: That was it.

Jim: You didn’t drink again?

Gary: It was done.

Jim: Wow.

Gary: But I – I wasn’t involved with that.

Jim: Yeah.

Gary: I didn’t go to AA. I mean, if someone would say, “Oh, Gary, help – my husband’s drinking, how can I help?” It’s like, I can’t tell you to do – you’ll have to do everything that I did. You know, I can’t – I would never tell someone, don’t go to AA, or don’t go to Celebrate Recovery, or don’t have someone, uh, you know, lovingly have a – a time when people come and confront you. I would not tell people not to do that, but I would say that’s not what happened to me.

Jim: Right. And I think that’s a really important distinction.

Gary: Yeah.

Jim: Some people, as you mentioned earlier, there’s a physiological dependence.

Gary: Oh, totally.

Jim: There’s an addiction of that nature.

Gary: Oh, yes. Yes.

Jim: And you need help in that regard.

Gary: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

Jim: For you, you didn’t experience that kind of addiction.

Gary: Not the physical, but it was – Jim…

Jim: You had a dependency.

Gary: Um, He broke some – the Lord broke something in me from that.

Jim: Yeah.

Gary: He – I could not break that myself.

Jim: It sounded like a spiritual thing.

Gary: It was a spiritual thing.

Jim: When Brenda’s heart was broken…

Gary: Yes.

Jim: Your heart was broken.

Gary: Yes.

Jim: And that started it. Where did Jesus come into the picture? Your wife is a believer…

Gary: He was in the picture right then.

Jim: That’s fair.

Gary: I just didn’t know it.

Jim: Yeah.

Gary: Yeah.

Jim: Where did you embrace Christ?

Gary: Well, once I wasn’t drinking, I could sort of think straight, right? And I like to think. Thinking’s fun, right? And thinking about how things work and all that, that’s kind of fun. And so, Brenda – all her friends, you know, had always come over and talked to me about the Lord and witnessed to me and shared Christ with me during the World Series, while I’m drinking a quart of beer, you know. They’d always done that. So I knew the facts of the Gospel. And so – but they had never – the dots had never connected. But, once I stopped drinking, the dots began to connect inside me, and I began to get an interest. And I describe it that it was as if – you know how when someone – if you walked out in the parking lot here today and someone said “Jim, Jim!” You didn’t see them, but you thought you heard your voice, your head would turn.

Jim: Right.

Gary: It was as if I heard my name. And my head was turning. And it was like – even though physically that wasn’t what was happening.

Jim: Right.

Gary: But inside it was like someone was calling my…

Jim: It wasn’t you.

Gary: …It wasn’t me. And well, so time goes on, and I start thinking about Brenda. Don’t you know – can’t you tell something’s different about me? I’m voluntarily going to church with her. I start going to church, like, on purpose with her. And then, I remember the last message that we heard, and I found out I was losing a job because the Lord’s so good. He goes, well – the Lord’s good, right? – He goes, “I want you to come to Me in prosperity, but I love you so much that if you don’t come to Me in prosperity, I still know you coming to Me is for the greater good, I’ll allow bad things to happen. I’ve got no problem with that, Gary.” So He allowed me to lose a job and for me to be 37 years old, and for me to say to myself Gary, you’re 37 years old, you always said you would never have children, until you got your act together. Well, you’ve got children. They’re 10 years old, and you don’t have your act together yet. And now you lost your job. Now what’s going to happen next?

Jim: Huh.

Gary: And so, it was like I went through this whole thing of Gary, what do you have control over? Nothing. Do you have control over whether you have an illness? Do you have control over whether you have cancer right now and you just haven’t found out? No. Do you have control over whether your wife will love you? Oh, I know Brenda will always love you [me]. That’s not what I asked. Do you have control over that? Well, no I can’t control that. What do you have control over, Gary? Nothing.

Jim: Huh.

Gary: And I gave up. And I had known enough, Brenda had told me enough, her friends had told me enough over the years. I knew what I was giving up. And I knew what I was embracing. And so, I gave up. “Lord,” and it was almost like an out-of-body experience. It wasn’t, but it was – it was like – it was like another part of me going, “you said Lord? What are you doing?”

Jim: This isn’t me, is it?

Gary: You’re on your knees. On Greenway Drive in Bettendorf, Iowa, and you’re on your knees. What are you doing down there? I was on my knees. I got on my knees. I go “Lord, I quit. I quit. I give up. I don’t know. I don’t know anything.” And, I just – I released it. And everything just changed after then.

John: Mm-hm.

Gary: Suddenly, I was interested in the Bible. I would, like, read the Bible, and I would just write down what it said. I’ve still got the old notebooks of just quoting the Scriptures that suddenly, I would want to tell – I would bore you. I would say, “Have you seen this? Do you know what’s in there?”

Jim: You know what I love, as you’re describing that, Gary, is that struggle. And it’s a beautiful way that you’ve described it, that struggle for a person at that breaking point…

Gary: Yes. Big.

Jim: …where they’re encountering God in a very tangible way.

Gary: It’s a battle.

Jim: Well, yeah. Is that me on my knees? Is that me…

Gary: Yeah.

Jim: …that’s going forward at the church service? Is that me that’s saying “God, I need you”?

Gary: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, that is typical. And so many people that are undecided yet or haven’t really made a commitment to Christ, that’s a great description of what that moment is like. You’re in this tension point. You’re in this battle. It’s the old nature and the new nature coming into you.

Gary: Yep.

Jim: That’s the moment of rebirth, spiritually speaking.

Gary: It’s huge.

Jim: It – it… And it’s just great the way you describe that. There’s so many directions here to go. But let me quickly grab Brenda’s reaction to all this at this moment. I mean, the next day, the next week, the next month.

Gary: OK. I go to pick her up right after I – right after I say that prayer, because they tell you you’re supposed to say a prayer, right?

Jim: Right.

Gary: Well, I was praying. I go to pick her up at her job at the bank. And I say to her, “Brenda, I said that prayer.” (Chuckling) OK. This is what she said, “What prayer?” Because the Lord had got her to a point where her hands were off of it so much. In the early days when she became a believer, you know, she was going to save me, you know. And she worked very hard at trying to manipulate the circumstances and the people that would be around me. And she matured. And she let that go, and she gave that to the Lord, still trusting, still believing, still even claiming – even claiming – that I was going to be a believer. But she had gotten – the Lord had gotten her hands off it so much, that when I said I said that prayer, she goes, “what prayer?,” I go “the prayer! The prayer where you get saved, you know, that prayer!” Oh, and then she, you know.

Jim: I mean, yeah. What a revelation for her.

Gary: Yeah. So that started, but I still – there was still so much, though. I mean, we had been married at that point – OK, if that was 1987 and we got married in ‘73, we’d been married 14 years or so.

Jim: OK. 14 years. Now, what I said in the opening about your background.

Gary: Um-hm.

Jim: Folks, you have connected with Gary. You understand where he’s at and where he’s coming from. He’s made this profession of faith. Now, we got to get to your observations of this life. And that’s what you’ve captured in A Family Shaped By Grace. You identified and mentioned a little while ago these seven deadly sins. Let’s take a couple of those. Describe those. Let’s list them first, if you will, and then come back and we’ll hit a couple of them.

Gary: Just off the top of my head, the ones – I had been married 14 years, so I was now – I was still, even though I was now a believer, even though I was now a partaker of divinity – right? – of God’s divine nature, I still had physical habits of reacting to things. And my physical habits were defensiveness and being offended.

Jim: That’s a real difficult one.

Gary: I continued doing that for years. When she would mention some little thing and it wouldn’t be anything, but I would overreact, even after I was a believer. I would overreact and get defensive and get mad at her, when it wasn’t anything that deserved anything like that.

Jim: Even believers do that. That is…

Gary: Just out of habit.

Jim: …The nature of the flesh.

Gary: Yes.

Jim: Let me hit a couple, and I’m going to pull a couple out. First, you said using your family to attain the inner peace and affirmation that only Jesus can provide. Boom! That’s a huge one right there.

Gary: Yes.

Jim: And I think a lot of parents are in that spot where they’re believing and deriving their benefit out of their family, out of their kids. And that’s not where you get that peace you’re talking about.

Gary: Mm-hm.

Jim: You saw that very clearly in your own life, right?

Gary: Oh, totally. And Brenda saw it too. She still had to go through that kind of thing of peace. In fact, for several years after I was a believer, she still continued to struggle on her own journey of being a believer, and her own journey of finding peace. And she apologized to me a bunch of years later, and said, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I was trying to make you be Jesus for me.”

Jim: Wow, that’s good.

Gary: She said, “poor man.” And that’s true, right? Poor man, or poor woman, if we are trying to get our spouse, or our children, or our mother-in-law, or peace in a family relationship to fulfill some hole in me that it is not going to fulfill. So, there’s a difference between peace and peacefulness. Peacefulness means things are going well. I feel great. Nice sunrise. Cup of coffee. Health. No big family problems. No one’s mad at me. We haven’t had a big argument. My mother-in-law’s treating me right. Or, I’m treating my – or my grown kids, everything’s good with that. That’s not peace. That’s peacefulness. Peace is when, even when everything happens that you do not want to have happen, still, somewhere deep inside me, I’m OK. And I know it’s going to be OK. I want to work as hard as I can to make everything work out well, to have everyone get along, to have this relationship be what I want, to be able to love my wife the way I want, and to receive her love the way that she wants to give it to me. I want to do all those things. But even when I fail, I can still have a deep peace within me, because that is personal and unique and intimate between me and the Lord.

Jim: That’s a great distinction. So many people miss that. I love the way…

Gary: You can’t miss it.

Jim: …you described it. But it is the, what the Scripture says: as far as you can, be at peace with all man. Be at peace with everyone. And I think that’s what you’re getting at there, this distinction, when things are not right, and you have peace, you know, the Lord is really in your heart and important to you. Let me hit some of the others. Practicing performance-based acceptance.

Gary: Oh, yeah.

Jim: I mean, wow (laughter).

Gary: We do that all the time, right? It’s PBA.

Jim: That’s what we’re talking about. PBA.

Gary: Yeah. PBA. I’ll treat you good, when you deserve it, right? I’ll give you grace when you deserve it. I’ll forgive you when you deserve it.

John: Hm.

Jim: Yeah.

Gary: Well, it’s like that’s – if it’s grace or forgiveness, it means it’s not deserved. So, performance-based acceptance is basically, if someone treats you badly, or in a way that you don’t like, or they offend you, then you are allowed to treat them back the same way. Or your… you can get mad at them, because they don’t deserve for you to treat them as if they haven’t done something wrong. They have behaved badly. Therefore, you should have a bad attitude towards them, because they deserve it. It’s like no, you can discipline someone and correct them, while still completely feeling grace and forgiveness and love towards them, because it’s for their good.

John: Good distinction.

Jim: I agree. And I think, again, these are such poignant observations. When a person is demanding behavior, in order to give acceptance, I mean, aren’t we grateful as Christians that that’s not how the Lord treats us? If you perform to a certain extent, then I’ll give you my – my grace and my salvation. We live like that at times, as Christians. But that’s not the message of the Gospel. The Gospel is this is a free gift.

Gary: Mm-hm.

Jim: Your salvation in Christ…

Gary: We nod to that in Sunday school, but then we don’t necessarily connect the dots when it comes to being offended by someone.

Jim: So this is a very important one to get – practicing performance-based acceptance – that we don’t want to do that.

Gary: Avoid that, yeah.

Jim: We want to avoid that. And yet, our flesh wants to go there. Keeping score is another one. Uh-oh.

Gary: Terrible, terrible, terrible.

Jim: (Laughing) I mean, this is such human nature to do this one, keep score. How did you keep score?

Gary: The same way we all do. I keep score of when you offend me, or treat me in a way that I don’t deserve, then I remember that, and I keep score of that. And – but I – I don’t keep score of when I do that to you. We only keep score of when the other person offends us and owes us. We don’t keep score of when we are the offender and owe them.

Jim: …And you know, Gary, you can apply that at the national level. That’s what’s going on in our culture today…

Gary: Oh, absolutely.

Jim: …Keeping score and retribution…

Gary: Breaks my heart.

Jim: …There’s very little desire to do the best thing, or to do the right thing, together…

Gary: Grace, grace, grace.

Jim: …And that’s what I love about it. Let me just quickly hit the others. You have rejecting and marginalizing. No. 5, scolding, criticizing and finding fault.

Gary: Yeah.

Jim: Wow. That’s a big one in marriage…

Gary: Yeah. And parenting, too.

Jim: …Touch on that one real quick. Oh, parenting, too.

Gary: And here’s the thing, though. You can scold – you can criticize, and you can find fault, and you’re actually right.

Jim: Correct.

Gary: They did do it wrong. They did do it wrong. But like, what’s the point, though? Is the point that they do something right? Or is the point your relationship? You know, you got the head – what is it? The hand, the head and the heart, right? And with the hand, you make someone do what you want to. It’s for their good, but your relationship is shot. With the head, you convince them to do what you want to. But it’s still kind of harms your relationship. But, by golly, they did what they were supposed to. But the heart is when they do what they’re supposed to – and this is how it would be for me – because I love you, and I know this is good for our relationship for me to behave in a certain way, because Dad, or Brenda, if I don’t, it will break your heart. And I don’t want to break your heart. So I’m going to cooperate and do these things the way that you’re talking about.

Jim: Gary Morland, author of the book A Family Shaped by Grace, this has been so good, and there’s so much more. But I would encourage you, the listener, to get a copy of the book. And we’ll make that available to you – our way of saying thank you, really – if you make a gift to Focus on the Family for any amount. If you can’t afford it, get a hold of us, we will get it into your hands, because we believe in the content and the message Gary has for you. So, give us a call, or go to our website to get a copy of A Family Shaped by Grace.

John: And you can donate and get that book and a CD or download of our conversation, as well, when you call 800-232-6459, or stop by

And while you’re at the website, learn about our intensive marriage counseling program. It’s called Hope Restored, located in Branson, Missouri. We’re seeing amazing results in the lives of broken couples who attend this intensive. And so, if you’re in a difficult marriage, looking for answers, let us help you, through Hope Restored.

On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

A Family Shaped by Grace

Receive Gary Morland's book A Family Shaped by Grace for your donation of any amount!

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