Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category

Peace

March 9, 2016

Don’t quarrel with anyone.  Be at peace with everyone, just as much as possible.  Romans 12

How is it possible to get along in this world without a quarrel?  What causes quarrels anyway?  Either someone insists on things being done their way, which is a quarrel about doing, or the quarrel is about being right, which is a quarrel about believing.  Both come about because both parties are putting themselves before another.

Whenever possible, a loving, humble person lets the other fully state their position, giving them the respect of being heard.  It is helpful to reflect what you believe the other person is saying.  It is also helpful to reflect the feelings being expressed.  When you have done this, you have opened a door of respect to let yourself be heard.  When the disagreement is about doing, often a compromise can be worked out–often coming to a better solution together than if one person simply gave in.  When the disagreement is about belief, hearing another person first should open the door to letting the second person state their beliefs in turn.  If that isn’t about to happen, nothing is to be gained by quarreling.  The second person can simply say  “Lets agree to disagree”, or something like that.  People who cannot listen to another’s beliefs, cannot listen to reason.  If someone didn’t reason their way into their own position, they will never be reasoned out of it, or even be able to acknowledge your right to another point of view.

Guarding my Heart and Mind

February 1, 2016

A man’s heart determines his speech.  A good man’s speech reveals the rich treasures within him.  An evil-hearted man is filled with venom, and his speech reveals it.   Matt 12:34-35

We all know what it feels like when we can’t wait to tell someone what is on our mind.  Our thoughts, good or bad, when connected with emotion, good or bad, are just bound to come out in our speech.  When we’re angry at someone, we can’t wait to get it off our chest.  When we want to complain, we have those who will listen.  When we are very excited by good news, we want to share that, and when we have what we think is a great idea, we can’t wait to show it off.  The best speech of all, is the one that comforts and encourages someone else, but even that has to come from somewhere.  We have to think about what to say, or at least draw on springs of compassion from somewhere deep within us.

So, if we want to be one of those people who always seems to have a good word for everyone, and great ideas to share, we have to do some serious work on the contents of our minds.  Many people have no idea they can control their thoughts.  They just let any and all thoughts wander through the living room of their minds like a herd of sheep, complete with dirty feet and scattered remains.  Counselors have long called depression the result of “stinkin’ thinkin'”  and if that is true, its time to clean the house of our minds.  We can train ourselves to periodically examine our thoughts.  We can ask ourselves, “whats been uppermost in my mind today?  Or what were the top 5 things I gave a lot of thought to today?”   Then we can examine whether these thoughts were productive thoughts, enjoyable thoughts, anxiety producing thoughts, or angry, resentful thoughts.  We can then consciously dismiss the negative, useless thoughts.  With practice, we can learn to recognize a negative thought right away and chase it out like we chase wildlife away from the house.

Since most minds ( multitasking is really whirling tasks around, not concentrating on multiple things as once) can only dwell on one thought at a time, there is limited space on the mental agenda.  If the agenda is full of positive thought, its harder for the negative to get in.

How can we get more productive, happy, useful thoughts into our minds?  Fill them with nourishment.  First of all, pray.  Thank God for all that is good and beautiful in your life.  Ask His help to be a positive person.  Ask Him what good and lovely things He wants you to work on today or this week.  Read good, inspiring thoughts every day.  Scripture verses, chapters of scripture, and devotionals are a start.  Biographies of people who led uplifting lives are good, as are “heartwarming” fictional stories and shows.  Try to spend more time around the people who bring you “up”, and less time around those who drag you “down”.  As you get stronger, you can try to tackle lifting those negative people, but you have to breathe the oxygen yourself first.

Yoga, Prayer and the difference.

January 6, 2012

“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way.  With Yoga we become aware of how and where we are restricted—in body, mind and heart—and how gradually to open and release these blockages.  As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed.  We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves.  Our lives begin to flow—or we begin to flow more in our lives.”    quote by Cybele Tomlinson.

 I read this quote today on the facebook page of a friend who has been going through a lot of soul searching.  It sounds good, but its really so very, very limited.  Its ultimately all about self, and no one else.  The human condition is such that we are limited and we are lonely.  We can’t solve our problems all alone.   Our problems with our loneliness and limitedness can’t be solved by a limited, lonely self.  Someone once quipped they couldn’t run from their problems because “wherever I go, there I am.”  The self is so constant it becomes a pain.  “Otherness” is as necessary to us as the air we breathe.  Its not so much whats in us that prevents us living a full and whole life, its the need for more than what is in us.  We have to open up.

Rather than Yoga, prayer opens the heart, mind and emotion to the great Other.  The best part of that is this  Other is the only One who has the power and wisdom to truly help us.  No one understands us like God, for He knows us better than we know ourselves.  As we pour out our hearts in prayer, we not only see ourselves more clearly, but we see answers to what we are seeking.  By opening up to Him, we learn to appreciate and love Him back.  This gives us the energy to love others and to have compassion for them.   “We love because He first loved us.”  I John 4:19

Virtual Marriage

June 21, 2011

It seems everything is virtual nowadays.  Relationships become more shallow by the year.  Texting replaces a call.  A facebook message replaces a letter.  E-cards replace cards.  We hardly talk face to face with anyone.  And along comes virtual marriage.

We used to call it “shacking up”.  Now they call it “trying out marriage”.  Being a roommate before being a mate.  And about one in four couples are doing this.  Why, I wonder?  Where is the love?

Men have always dragged their feet at commitment.  They like the idea of a back door to escape out of whenever things get tough in a relationship.  There’s also the “grass is greener” mentality, where commitment shuts the door on the possibility of a better partner.  In this mentality is a kind of childishness–thinking solely of self and not the “other”.  Certainly its not love.  However, even such men do not like the idea of the woman having an affair on the side.  Whats ok for the gander isn’t ok for the goose.  Not all men are this way, however.  A man can mature and truly love, becoming a very caring, protective committed husband.   He learns to love, and recognize the benefits of marriage.

Women need something else.  Women long to be loved and cherished.  They need exclusivity to feel secure.  They don’t really open up and blossom without knowing its permanent.  They want to love, to build a nest and a future and a family eventually.  What is different now?  Men haven’t changed, but women have.  They are settling for less.  With their own careers they might feel less financial incentive to marry (although married couples do better financially than singles).  With more reliable birth control, they may feel they no longer have a reason to hold out for marriage.  But whats in this virtual marriage for women?   Their very basic needs for love and security aren’t being met in this arrangement.  They give their best years to a man who doesn’t love them enough to commit to them.  They don’t have a real marriage, because they can’t risk being who they really are: they aren’t secure enough.  They postpone childbearing many times because of that insecurity, sometimes too long for their biological peak.  And in the end, when he does bolt for that back door or greener grass, they are just as devastated as they would have been with a divorce.  Living with a man who is uncommitted is unrequited love, and thats just letting oneself be used, doing nothing of value for the loved one, and devastating for the self.

God knew what he was doing.  He made men and women for each other.  He knew men do best with a family to care for; that it brings out the finest qualities in them.  He knew women do best when their love is returned, and their relationship is secure.  And so he made one man and woman to live for one another, exclusively, for a lifetime.  And they are fruitful, raising chidren, and mentoring grandchildren.  And all cultures that endure have accepted this.

Fathers Day

June 21, 2011

I absolutely loved the “Peanuts” Father’s Day cartoon.  Charlie Brown admits his dad can’t golf or bowl as well as Lucy’s dad, but when he goes into his dad’s barber shop, no matter how busy it is, his dad gives him a big smile because “he likes me.”

Dad’s do two things no one else can do in a child’s life.  Dads, whether worthy or not, portray the heavenly father for their children.  A cruel or abusive dad portrays God as an angry, punitive father.  A dad who teaches the child character and morals, while patiently helping them learn to make decisions, set goals, do their best, challenge themselves, and love with real world love, gives them a picture of a God they can love and desire to know.

The other thing Dad’s do is like their kids.  Kids know their mothers love them unconditionally.  Dad’s approval has to be earned.  When Dad teaches his child what to do to be a worthy human being, forgives them when they fail, but insists they have another “go” at it to do it right, they earn his approval.  While he critiques them, he doesn’t reject them.  Such a dad gives his kids real confidence, honest and realistic confidence, and they live for his approval.  Such kids are achievers, and they are secure knowing “my dad likes me.”  They also see the model of a God who has standards, yet has compassion, and who likes them.

Dealing with Hostile People

March 17, 2011

Its so hard to have compassion when someone is hostile.  No matter how ill they are or how disordered are their circumstances, if they are hateful in their comments or body language, its difficult to maintain a kindly or even just objective manner.

One thing that helps is to remember the hostility is sort of a presenting symptom of what is going on underneath.  Its like a fever–meaningless alone, but it indicates something else is happening.  Under anger is usually pain, sadness,  fear or helplessness.  Remembering that, its easier to be helpful.  Lord, help me see the hurt under the difficult behavior, and help me soothe that hurt.

A Prayer for Help to Forgive

March 12, 2011

Lord, I know unforgiveness blocks Your living water in my own soul.  It cuts off the flow in my spiritual arteries.  What am I to do?  I see things and hear things that stab my heart.  Immediately I must bring them to You.  You saw what I saw.  You know I feel what I feel.  I am to leave this in Your capable hands.  You know what I cannot know.  You see into the heart of the other person, and You will deal with them in love, as is necessary.  I am to let go and just love.  I can “just love” by praying for their good, and by saying and doing good to them if and where I am able.  I am to think their good by remembering that You love them and You are bringing about good in their life.  Help me have Your thoughts and an attitude that pleases You.

Loving an Enemy–a prayer

March 12, 2011

Lord, I can’t control what others do to me, but I can control the attitude of my own heart.  Help me truly love, care for, pray for and sacrifice for those who do not love me–who indeed may hate me.  You loved like that, Jesus.  Now You are letting me experience the sorrow of having an enemy who has done harm to my soul and spirit.  Lord, I know this is a practical lesson.  I am to practice loving the way You do–not just think about it.  I need Your help so much.  Please change my deepest heart attitudes–especially the ones I don’t know about, and bring my attitudes in line with Yours.

Love as a Virtue

January 12, 2011

In English, love has many meanings from romantic love to love for a favorite food, and all sorts of “loves” in between.  However, love can be a virtue.  If I want to strive for the virtue of love, I would define it as affection for others.  If I have affection for others, then I see the good in them first.  I can sort the wheat from the chaff and cherish the wheat.  To do that, I must put myself out for others.  Some wit once said “I love humanity, its human beings I can’t stand”.  We can have some noble sentiments regarding being a “lover of humanity”, yet despise certain people, especially the ones who get in our way or offend our sensibilities. 

To love people, I must go out of my way to get to know them.  A good person may be polite.  A virtuous person knows the name of the office maid and goes out of his way to speak to her and get to know her as an individual.  I need to be genuinely interested in the people I see around me on a regular basis, and go out of my way to meet my neighbors.  I need to remember names and use them.  I need to politely inquire after people as I get to know them.  I can pray for them and encourage them.  Yes, there are a lot of people whose paths I cross, and I may not be able to befriend all of them.  However, as with all good things, I need to look at what I CAN do and not use what I can’t do as an excuse not to do anything.

The 45 Minute Solution

March 2, 2010

When confronting “the blues”, dullness, boredom and the like, I was once given a transforming recipe by a mature and wise pastor.  I call it the 45 Minute Solution.

First, spend 15 minutes a day reading the bible.  Ask the Lord to speak to you through the bible, and you can even ask Him what book of the bible to read.  Personally, I like the gospels, epistles and psalms, but I have never read a book of the bible where I didn’t find a little nugget of gold that met my exact needs at that moment.  Just be aware that God will speak to you if you ask Him and your soul is open and willing to hear Him.

Second, spend 15 minutes a day pouring out your heart to God.  Ask Him for everything you need, lay all your burdens before Him, and don’t forget to thank Him for all the ways you have seen Him help you.

Third, spend 15 minutes a day encouraging someone else’s faith, sharing the hope the Lord has given you.  You can do this through spoken or written words.  You can’t encourage someone else without the encouragement strengthening you, too.  As an old proverb says, the fragrance remains on the hand that gives a rose.

Try this for a couple of weeks.  I promise it will be life changing.