Archive for March, 2010

March 30, 2010

A father writes…..

by Rod Smith

“I follow you articles with interest. Your column on ‘forgiveness’, has never been more appropriate or relevant as it was today. On Sunday night, after my wife and I had conflict with our son, our hearts were broken and we felt betrayed and offended. In our minds our son was beautiful, caring, and a model of consistency. This was shattered in one moment. We all cried!

I went to his room to say goodnight and that I love him, but I did not forgive him. I don’t think either of us slept.

The next day (today) I left for work before he woke up. My heart was very heavy. I read the paper and with it came your ‘forgiveness’ article.

I copied it and took it home then and there. It could not have come at a better time.

It made me realize a few things: Nobody is perfect; my job as his father is to protect, offer advice, guide, respect and most of all love; I need to provide him with an environment that he can make mistakes and allow for normal engagement. He must not be afraid to come to me, for anything. I can’t wait to see him tonight!

Thanks for the help, I really needed it.”

(Edited for space and privacy)

March 29, 2010

My whole week was full of butterflies…….

by Rod Smith

“I’ve been married for a year. The marriage has been horrible. He has cheated multiple times and been violent at times. We have a mutual friend who I started liking him because he’s a really nice guy and my marriage was bad. So a week ago I told him how I feel about him and he revealed he also had feelings. My whole week was full of butterflies and emotions I never got from my husband. Yesterday my husband and I agree on a divorce but then he changed his mind and we had a big argument with violence and cops. So my husband’s gone and today my ‘friend’ phone and tells me to stop calling him because he doesn’t want trouble. Talk about my heart being crushed! I think I’m in denial because I’m trying to let it go and say it is his loss and I’ll get somebody better but I really had my hopes on this guy. Very sad.”

I agree it is sad, perhaps for reasons other than your stated reasons. Fulfillment is not found in having a man, but rather in growing up. It’s in becoming a fully productive person; it is in developing your skills, pursuing your dreams, whether you have a relationship or not.

March 29, 2010

I’m crazy about him……

by Rod Smith

“I have been with my husband for 21 years now, married for 19. I loved him madly when we met and could not wait to get married and have kids. Have three gorgeous boys (18, 16, and 11). My husband has beaten me and cheated on me. He has another child with another woman who is only 3-years-old – all while we have been married. His children hate him and don’t respect him at all. Now I have met another guy and I’m crazy about him. He has even asked me to leave my husband and I’m seriously considering it, but why am I so scared of taking this step? Help me please.”

it will be from the fire, into the fire.....

Being “crazy” about someone is exactly that: crazy. Until you find some peace with your marriage, or until you are free of it for a year or two, any man who shows you some thoughtfulness and attention will appear as a knight in shining armor. Don’t confuse attention with love.

Leaving your husband (a scary thought even for women in the worst of circumstances) given his abusive behavior ought to be given consideration. Hooking up with some guy you are crazy about ought to terrify you. Don’t do it. Not yet, anyway.

March 29, 2010

Leadership – a brief refresher…..

by Rod Smith

The courage to lead....Leadership is often misunderstood. I see leaders (pastors, teachers, coaches) looking for formulas, for steps, for ways to show who is boss. They look for workers (congregants, students, athletes) who will make them appear successful. I have seen leaders grasping for power and status in the illusive search of abating feelings of inadequacy.

And when we (every leader is prone to these temptations) do any of these things as leaders, we miss the point.

Leadership is an inside job.

It’s an internal condition. It’s understanding a function, a role, rather than becoming an identity in which we glory.

Authentic leaders are more interested in changing themselves than they are in changing others. They are more committed to personal integration (reducing hypocrisy) than they are into pushing, moving, manipulating others in a particular direction.

In pursuit of greater levels of personal integration, authentic leaders are ruthlessly honest with themselves and with a few core carefully chosen family members and carefully chosen friends. They are unafraid of feedback, and when and if they are, they overcome it by facing the fear and enduring the feedback. Authentic leaders consistently pursue the double-edged goal of constantly increasing both intimacy and autonomy at one and the same time.

March 28, 2010

The power to forgive…

by Rod Smith

Forgiveness is a wonderful, divine, gift. It can most dramatically precipitate healing among and within people. He who chooses to forgive seldom loses. He (or she) who initiates forgiveness reveals his strength. It is the stronger person who is first to forgive, and when the exchange is made, both parties – the forgiver and the forgiven – each benefit from the act.

As quickly as you find it possible, and can muster the strength from within you: forgive when you have been wronged; when you are uncomfortable being around a particular person and would rather avoid them; when you find you have little or nothing positive to say to or about someone; when you always look for a way to avoid a certain person;
when you find it hard to think positive thoughts about someone.

Forgive when someone’s actions (real or perceived) seem to be buried or sealed into your consciousness and you can’t seem to free them from the prison in your head. Forgive when you feel haunted by someone whose acts against you will not let you go.

Forgiveness links us with the divine, heals fragile families, hurting communities and restores hope within broken people – and sets the forgiver free.

March 25, 2010

Operating in the “opposite spirit” —

by Rod Smith

Opposite spirit: it's more difficlut than it sounds....

Youth With a Mission’s founders, Loren and Darleen Cunningham, are two of my heroes.

Pioneering what has, in 50 years, become a vast army of people serving God and others, “YWAM” (Durban has a base, too) has been an agent of grace and change in remarkable ways all over the world.

The Cunninghams speak often of “the opposite spirit”, a concept I find deeply challenging.

Here’s a complex concept in a nutshell: If someone wants to fight (argue, be antagonistic) identify and offer the opposite (peace, grace, cooperation). If someone is arrogant or pushy, offer praise and acceptance. Resist the natural urge to fight the fighter or bring someone down a peg or two.

I’ve seen Loren do this. I’ve seen him learn from those who would do better to listen and learn from him. I’ve seen him stare down an angry person, not with force or power, but with love and acceptance. I have seen him repeatedly give, when he himself is in need.

My inner-urge to fight fire with fire is strong, but the likes or Loren, and many people whom I have met in YWAM, have shown me that it is more productive and helpful to “go counter”, to offer kindness, when others are bent on offering its antithesis.

March 24, 2010

My ex is a kind man but he changes plans all the time……

by Rod Smith

My ex-husband and I are continually at war about when he can see our son. He changes plans and I have to re-arrange things. My son (5) doesn’t seem to care if he sees his dad or not and I am starting to think it is not worth the bother. My ex is a very kind man, he is just very busy and cannot always predict his work schedule. Please help.

Being “at war” with a “kind man” must be preferable to “war” with one who is unkind. Your acknowledgment of his kindness is, I suspect, as healthy as your acknowledgment that his inconsistencies are apparently the result of variables outside of his control.

Your son’s appearance to not care about seeing his dad ought not fool you. The child probably feels caught up in your frustrations and knows that demonstrating his desire to see his father may further upset you. Don’t underestimate a child’s ability to play the role of peacekeeper.

Cooperate all you can to get your son to his dad as often as is pleasing to both parents. The likelihood of your paying a stiff price later on, if the boy perceives you as having kept him from his dad, is very strong.

March 23, 2010

Responding to tough times and cut-backs….

by Rod Smith

tread wisely, don't bleed.....

When your organization suffers through layoffs, cutbacks….

If you are staying or going don’t bleed, spread rumors, or generate further confusion. Don’t talk to people on the ‘outside’ or ruin the perceptions of innocent parties. Use your “I” voice, not a “we” voice. Speak only of your own perceptions and only when specifically asked. Be a “step-down” transformer (one who reduces anxiety) rather than a “step-up” transformer (one who escalates or amplifies anxiety).

Try to listen more than you talk. Resist rumors and “toxic talk” by stopping it in its tracks.

Resist the natural urge to confuse the work environment with family. Your workplace might be “like a family” but it is not. Families usually accommodate immature behavior. Workplaces usually cannot afford it. Workplaces hire and fire; families usually don’t.

Remember there are no “closed” doors or absolutely private conversations. Everything you say must pass through your internal filter of: “Is it true, helpful, kind, necessary?” It is truly a remarkable day when a person discovers that not everything he or she thinks or feels has to be expressed.

How you respond under stress (even under perceived unfairness) will speak volumes about the kind of human you are. How you go (terminate, depart, say goodbye) may invalidate everything you accomplished while employed.

March 22, 2010

He threatens suicide….

by Rod Smith

Do not be cornered.....

I received a letter yesterday from a mother of an adult son who seeks financial help from his parents and then threatens suicide if refused. I responded, but the email “bounced back.” So I have to go public:

It is, as you say, a bad idea for most families to get into business together. It gets messy. If your son does take HIS life, it will not be because of anything you have or have not done. This is what suicide is — it is SELF inflicted. I hope this is NOT the choice he makes.

I’d suggest you give him no money at all. He is NO longer a child. He needs medical, not financial help. He will not grow up and he will not do well while you are bailing him out.

If you do not help you will not CAUSE anything to occur to him or to his children. It is HIS family and HIS responsibility. Let him know this as soon as possible and then STICK to your word.

I will also mourn if your son makes dumb choices (and I am a stranger) BUT until he sees that his life and future are fully in his hands you will have this noose around your neck.

Your mothering is OVER. Focus on you and your husband.

March 21, 2010

I made her think I cared…..

by Rod Smith

“I cheated on my wife. She was easy, telling me daily about her lack of love and missing a man. She had a husband but confided in me. My wife worked a lot to better our finances. I wish I could undo the affair. Men lie to get sex. I didn’t think of her until the next time I went back for sex. She used the ‘love’ word and to make sure I got what I wanted I used it too. Even if my wife had left me she wasn’t my type. Men do lie. I made her think I cared. I’d send her cards to make sure I got what I wanted. When my wife found out she threatened to leave and says I ruined her life. The other woman wanted me but I didn’t want her. I would rather stay with my wife and not have love than to be with the other woman. She was ‘okay’ in bed, but that’s all.” (Edited of derogatory terms for women)

No, sir, not all men lie – but you do. Once you see there is more to life than sex, and more to people than objectifying them, you might (it is a possibility) move beyond your apparent fixation with your private parts and discover real joy.