Entries in intentions (11)
I admit it. I love celebrating my birthday. In fact, I love it so much I am guilty of celebrating it months after it has passed. Something about birthdays makes me happy. First of all, I am glad I was born. Secondly, I believe the world is a better place because I am in it.
One of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart. The main character, George, is given an amazing gift. He is able to see what his corner of the world would have been like if he had never graced this earth. And he was surprised to see that he had made a difference. He never traveled from his home town; he was not the President of his country or even the mayor of his city. However, the influence he had because he cared for others was monumental.
How about you? What do you do when your birthday rolls around? This year, I encourage you to take a moment and reflect on all the positive ways you have touched the lives of others. Think back on what people have said to you concerning your influence on them. Also, make this a year where you intentionally give back to your family, your community, your world.
It feels good to be celebrated! The key is to let the celebration of self-begin with you!
Who or what gets you angry? As you do an inventory, let me give you some of my biggest pet peeves. First, ridiculous traffic light sequences make me angry. We can put a man on the moon but we have yet to figure out how to improve and expedite traffic flow. I cannot tell you the number of times I have sat at a light waiting for the green and see no other traffic travelling on the street I have intersected with. My comment more often than not is, “This is just ridiculous!” (emphasis added J). Those lights make me so angry! Another regular frustration is the instrument that I’m using to record this blog… my computer. I love the convenience that it brings, but when it’s acting up, I don’t think that there’s anything more aggravating and time-consuming. My frequent comment here is, “Oh no, not again!” Do you feel my pain?
So, where does anger (frustration, irritability, aggravation) come from? My thought is that it does not come from the actual precipitating events, it comes from inside me. It is a response to my life and its daily activities not going according to my plan. Someone or something has interposed himself or itself in my life to take me off my plans… plans for time usage, plans for productivity, or plans for rest. But those people or events aren’t producing my anger, they are revealing it. Anger is a God-given emotion and is not inherently bad or evil. But anger is prone to go in very dysfunctional directions if we do not handle it correctly. Our anger, properly viewed, is an invitation to a more accurate self-perception and growth. Why do I get upset when my wife does that? Why am I so stressed when I’m late? Why does my lack of knowledge and ability make me so mad? The answer is not a cookie cutter one… one size does not fit all. But our regular irritations are a call to a deeper place where God can speak to us in a more profound manner. God speaks to Cain’s anger at his rejected sacrifice and says: “Why are you angry? …if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” The goal is not to stop being angry, but to be its master and not let that anger lead us into sin. So stop blaming others or events or even God for your anger, and allow Him to take you into a place where you can use that anger to lead you to greater personal insights and more healthy relationships.
Seriously!! I’m not joking!
It iss pathetic isn’t it? I actually look forward to this painful moment? So after a conversation about self care with a colleague today I thought about my monthly “relaxing” pain sessions and why I enjoy them so much.
Then it hits me. Getting my eyebrows waxed has been the only time I’ve had lately to “turn off”. To completely unplug my brain and shut down without the distraction of the TV, radio or phone call. This is not good! Not good for me physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. We need the time to turn off our brains and “un-plug”. Don’t get me wrong, I get it! I understand that it is hard to carve out time in a week where we are not cleaning, meal planning, doing homework with children, helping a friend, etc etc. But we need to make time, I need to make time. Without this self care we become useless to the people around us, or even worse, leechy...so desperate to be filled emotionally we’re draining the life out of those around us.
So this week I’m taking my own advice and I am cultivating the art of self care. I will find time in my day, everyday to sit, be, breathe, pray, mediate and be calm. Even if it is only for 10 minutes, I will do it. Won’t you join me?
There are times in life when NOT doing something can usher in a sacred moment. I had one recently. I learned a lot from this moment, and I want to share.
My energetic, bright, and confident daughter brought me a few pages of an essay that I had seen her working on for the past few weeks. She was exceptionally excited about this essay that is a true story of the scariest moment of her life. I was a character in this essay, and I could see in her eyes her need for me to approve of her work. She was proud and delighted to share it with her mom. I sensed in that moment that in believing in her work, she would feel my love for her. How I would value her work was tied to how I felt about her. I could see it.
I read her words out loud. There was so much energy and life in the story. I saw how excited she was to tell this story…but I also saw typos. I saw misspelled words. I saw incorrect placement of commas. I saw how the story wasn’t exactly how it happened.
And I had a choice. I had a choice to use my strengths (insight, assistance, discernment to make changes for the better…people pay me to do these things) or to RESTRAIN. Without a doubt, it was God working in me in that moment. I had been learning about the Discipline of Restraint from one of my mentors, Alicia Britt Chole. I had worked to build up the muscle of restraint. This, my friend, was a test.
I looked at her, mirroring back to her the excitement that she was oozing, and I told her how proud of her I was. I told her that the story kept me on the edge of my seat even when I knew the ending. I gave her a hug. I celebrated her work, and I celebrated her.
Fast forward a week or two. As I picked up my daughters from school, my daughter told me about her day. She said that her teacher read her essay to the class. The teacher praised my daughter, saying that in the history of 25 years of teaching, this was the best essay she has ever read from one of her students.
I, of course, was so pleased that she did well. But I was even more thankful that I had not been a critical, disparaging voice echoing in her heart. Had I corrected her, she would have remembered that her mother only saw the negative. The discipline of restraint saved my daughter the belief that her mother didn’t approve of her.
I sat back and didn’t say what I thought. I held my tongue and offered my heart. I have to say it is one of my proudest moments in the last year, and it is all because I used RESTRAINT.
I will continue to learn to get out of the way, to give less of myself.
Next challenge: critiquing my husband’s sermons.
One of the first things I remember learning in my training as Marriage and Family Therapist is this fact from communication theory:
“One cannot NOT communicate.”
The communication axiom, “One cannot NOT communicate,” has much to say (pun intended).
It is very common in couples that one of the partners has strong tendencies to “freeze” in conflict, “flee” from arguments and potentially difficult conversations. We will call this person the “Withdrawer.” This looks like shutting down, walking out of the room, hanging up the phone, and avoiding discussions.
The emotional trust in a relationship can be greatly damaged by the “communication” of not communicating. Sometimes, the partner married to a “Withdrawer” perceives the thoughts and feelings of the “withdrawer” as inherently selfish and narcissistic.
Here is what partners think the “Withdrawer” is saying:
- “I don’t think you are worth the energy to communicate with.”
- “I don’t care enough for you to do what is difficult for me.”
- “I despise that you are so needy.”
- “My needs are more important than yours.”
Sometimes, the “withdrawer” IS thinking that. That is a whole different blog. More often, I find that the “withdrawer” is simply scared.
For most “withdrawers” I know, they are really thinking and feeling the following:
- “I am scared that I will never please you.”
- “I just freeze and don’t know what to say when you are mad.”
- “You are a better arguer than I am and I can’t think that fast.”
- “I want to make you happy, but I don’t know how.”
Sometimes we need help to get out of communication patterns that we are stuck in. If you are a “withdrawer” or married to one, slow down the conversation and communicate what you are experiencing. Be compassionate and give one another the benefit of the doubt!