LOVE Checklist

3 04 2011

We may say how much we love someone, but do we show them these basic characteristics of  love?

 “Love is…

  • Patient
  • Kind
  • Enduring
  • Truthful
  • Giving
  • Hopeful
  • Unfailing

Love…

  • Thinks the best 
  • Has faith 
  • Is not jealous
  • Is not overbearing
  • Is not arrogant
  • Does not behave rudely
  • Is not self-serving or selfish
  • Is not easily provoked
  • Does not think negatively
  • Does not enjoy evil
  • Does not give up.”

(Taken from I. Cor 13:4-8, Holy Bible)

 

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This, Too, Shall Pass

24 03 2011

NOTHING
STAYS THE SAME

Happy changes: Thirty years or so ago, my husband became a minister. The two of us, along with our three children, struck out across Texas to see (move to) Colorado, Nevada, and Northern California, respectively, as we served in various churches in those states. I knew then I had found my purpose and joy in life – being with my  husband and children, seeing different places, designing, writing, teaching Bible studies , performing music for churches and conventions, and just loving and helping people whenever I could.

 Terrifying changes:  I experienced a mental breakdown as I sensed an ever-widening gap between my husband and me. I mean, full-blown. Complete with Psych
hospitals, medications, psychosis, burnout, self-injury, counseling, etc. It was a life-changing event, to say the least, and I continue to deal with some of these behavioral and mood issues.

Then suddenly (with only three months warning), after fifteen years in, my husband left the ministry. I had struggled with Major Depressive Disorder for as long as I  could remember, but at such a time of acute pressure as those weeks were, I began to be engulfed by it. I would leave behind a grandchild, a position in the church, respect of the people of the area, the dear friends we had made (in this locale that we had been calling home for ten years now), the job I held at the local school where I worked part-time…

In essence – everything I had devoted the 30 years of my adult life to – family closeness, ministry work, an almost-decent salary (finally), enjoyable work  conditions, and status – were gone. As I grieved the losses, we returned to my modest house in Texas.

 Two Years Later, My five-year-old granddaughter was discovered to have leukemia, which began a grueling three years of treatment for her and my daughter’s
entire family.

Unimagined changes: I found out an intolrable action of his, along with some major irreconcilable value differences, that emerged about my husband that made it impossible for me to remain married to him. On our 27th Anniversary, we separated and later divorced. My two oldest (and seemingly least maladaptive grown kids) – the “good” kids – stopped communicating with me at all, nor will they allow me access (or even news, calls, or pictures) of my grandchildren. My “troubled child” has, on the other hand, repaid me in kind for times I interceded for him and stood in his defense, loving him unconditionally. He was right there for me through my shock, denial, anger, grief, etc., from each turn of events as they seemed to mount. I basically stayed in bed and cried for a couple of years.

In an effort to show some sign of forward progress in my life, and not knowing what else to do, I enrolled in online courses at Northeast Texas Community College.
I planned to study psychology and perhaps become a mental health worker. I assumed my mental and physical health would improve. However, as in earlier school years, the accolades came through English/Journalism classes and those instructors instead.

Ive been surprised to receive three serious marriage proposals. I am FIFTY-  (old!) – and set in my ways, y’all! I can’t see ever vowing to unite, submit,
become one with anyone again. I found it utterly impossible to do. You don’t even know your spouse sometimes, even after 27 years of being married. So NO!

Fun Changes: At last I am realizing that it is in the art of writing itself that I find an ease, talent, release, and enjoyment. I am following that career path. Several
open doors have recently presented themselves to me as possible writing career opportunities.

I now rent out a room of my house, which is a trip in itself. My first roommate (for 2 years), Dewey, was a blast. He could somehow get me out of my room, and even into a vehicle to go somewhere! (But he wasn’t  so fun when he took money, ran up bills, and disappeared.)

My recent roommate is a hoot, too! I thought his kind were extinct, or at least a dying breed. But Chris is conscientious, honest, helpful, fun and considerate. And fun. And did I say fun? So I can tolerate the differences in our personal philosophies. Even though our viewpoints are at odds, we agree to disagree and usually
do not try to control or convert one another. We are who we are and it is what it is.

I learned that when people advised me to “make  a new life” for myself, what they really meant was: “Make a new life that is the same as your old one so we will not be disappointed in you.” My goal is to simply be a person I like.

So I continue writing, laughing, loving, learning about myself, studying, and searching. Whatever else is in store for me; one thing is certain: change is inevitable.

 





Sick of Each Other?

24 02 2011

Sick of Each Other?

Long-term or chronic illness, financial worries, and traumatic events are often said to “make or break” a relationship. These are hardships that must be borne and dealt with day after day, causing some people to turn to each other for comfort, encouragement, and hope. Yet others turn away from each other and withdraw – or turn to someone else – instead.

Unexpected events that affect our lives in negative ways understandably cause shock and painful emotions that we may not always be able to deal with smoothly or with finesse initially. But once we are back on our feet we need to be aware of the strain that is on our relationship due to the present circumstances. Making sure we are not isolating or shutting our friend/family member/partner out is a good place to start. A little patience and understanding can go a long way in keeping the connection between two people strong.

As for my most recent roommate, he has never seen me in what I consider my “normal” state. I have been dealing with vehicle problems, illness, serious family issues, or dire financial straits ever since he has known me. He has certainly seen me at my worst. But he’s still here.

(Omg, Does that men that perpetual crisis has become my “normal state?”)





The Fault Line

26 10 2010

Differing opinions…

Faults… Flaws…Mistakes…

Individual “fashion” Sense…

These are difficult to deal with in relationships sometimes. They stand out most when people are stressed, in a foul mood, have spent a lot of time together, or are just being nitpicky. I say this because at times when they – friends, couples, family members, etc. – are experiencing strong feelings of love or patience (or are in a better mood) the same people can easily overlook these same surface defects. The imperfections don’t seem to be such a big deal when we are relaxed, feeling well, and are taking pleasure in the personal connection.

There are cases in which people feel as if they need to make their differences of opinion known. This will hopefully be done with thoughtfulness and tact, as well as with respect for the other person’s views. In fact, they may already know how you feel about the subject. If so, LET IT GO. Believe it or not, it is not necessary to correct, argue, give advice, or respond in any way to another person’s irritating traits or views – even if we disagree with them. Realize it is possible to enjoy being with them in spite of their little quirks. Actually, the quirks often become endearing the more we learn to radically accept that person – and everything that goes along with them.

Q: Are we out to change others, improve them, control them, manipulate them, criticize them or do we like them as they are?

Q: Is their outward wrapping more important to us than listening to their heart, hearing their dreams, sharing their problems, having a good laugh together?

Ridding yourself of toxic relationships that are not accepting of you will set you free. About a year ago, I backed away from a close, but particularly critical friend, and we are both much happier and better off for it. I didn’t mind her criticism once in a while, but it became a fault-finding session each time we got together – complete with advice, cut-downs, and too much “all up in my bizzniss.” So we stopped being quite so close. I was not unkind. I just didn’t try so hard to nurture the friendship any more.

Acceptance of others will set you free, too. You can kick back, chill, and open up a little more. You can even add some tolerance and understanding when relating to those you are in amity with. You can laugh at their eccentricities, shake your head, and love them all the more. Before long you will be having pleasant encounters and coming into contact with people who encourage you and add to your life. You will also find quite a few characters to have fun with. Everyone should benefit from and take pleasure in their relationships. Otherwise, why socially interact?





Communication Breakdown

20 10 2010

So far I have talked about the importance of respect, honesty, and humor in getting along with other people. But it also takes a lot of understanding to maintain a close friendship of any kind. 

Often we grab whatever we hear a person say to us at face value and run with it, becoming offended or hurt. But if we will stop and consider what the other person is truly meaning to say, we may understand that they are actually trying to encourage us or give a compliment. They just didn’t word it correctly.

Words are hard to come by sometimes, and it is even more difficult to say precisely what we intend to when we are tired, emotional, or in a hurry. It’s in those critical times that our knowledge of the other person comes in handy. If the person is close to us, or if we have known them a long time, we may (or may not) be able to “hear” what they are saying to us in spite of the words they use. If not, it may serve us well to give that other person the benefit of the doubt until we can ask them – at a better time – exactly what they did mean to say. 

Understanding another person may consist of trying to hear “the heart” of what they are saying. This is simply allowing other people to be fallible and make mistakes when speaking with us. It is reminding ourselves not to pick apart every word the other person says, and to give a little leniency and grace to them.

Communication goes beyond words. When we give understanding, we move beyond mere “surface” communication and begin to sharpen our awareness skills, show deeper perception, and convey a new level of kindness to those we are in relationship with.





Irresistible Laughter

13 10 2010

God made it a little easier for us to have fun by creating laughter to sound so goofy and irresistible.

There is something powerful about laughter; especially a child’s. Maybe because it’s honest and pure. I still have a message from my little granddaughter that has been saved on my answering machine for months, because every time I listen to her spontaneous giggle something positive takes place in me. I feel stronger. Fresher. Brighter. Resilient. More resistant to doubt and despair.

Humor is essential in maintaining any human relationship. Humor can diffuse the most volatile situation, and stabilize the most precarious circumstance.  

Negativity that is thinly disguised as snide humor or bitter sarcasm is not humor. Humor lightens the load. Mends the rift. Makes things better. Lets us know we will be okay. Reminds us that we will survive.

It is common to get our priorities disarranged at times of discomfort or misfortune: A child’s misbehavior is devastating. A flat tire is the end of the world. An argument is the apocalypse. Our perceived catastrophes may be much less severe if we look at the situation as it relates to the big picture. Making fun of a situation we find ourselves in has a way of loosening the grip of panic. A funny remark that suddenly ruptures the intensity of an overwhelming incident is phenomenal. People who can infiltrate a bad frame of mind and force a real smile out of us are invaluable. Joy is irresistible. Joy activates hope. Hope heals.

Chronic irritability and complaining will not only steal the joy from life, but will deaden relationships as well.  So relax a little. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Lighten up about that negative turn of events. Check to see if you can at least just shake your head and smile to yourself. And you may even become that friend who brings comic relief to others during difficult times.

 





Promises, promises

6 10 2010

Recently, several people have said things to me like: “I’ll pay you back tomorrow,”  “I will fix that for you,” “I’ll call you Monday,” or “Oh I’ll do that! It will be easy.” 

But when the time came, they were not able to follow through. Or they forgot. Or they just didn’t. Or they never planned to. One of the people told me later, “I was just dreaming when I told you I could do that.” Is that bizarre to anyone else, or is it just me?  

I don’t think any of these people meant to be lying to me –  never intending to do what they said – but at the very least it wasn’t very important to them that they keep their word. It makes me wonder if there is a growing trend toward making promises thoughtlessly and not really caring if they are kept.

When a person says they will do something, they have made a commitment. That is, if being honest is a priority with them. Maybe not a sacred vow or a contract written in blood, but an agreement nonetheless.

Trust is built when people do what they say (and do it when they said it would be done). I never know what someone has riding on my promise. I may not realize how important it is to them, or how much they may be depending on it.

I admire and applaud the many people who still believe in keeping their word. They stick to what they say rather than just shrugging off a promise when something better or more fun comes along. They are the ones employers, co-workers, coaches, and friends depend on.








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