Archive for December, 2010

December 26, 2010

He’s like a puppy around her…….

by Rod Smith

“I am so upset. My ex-husband gives lavish gifts to his new girlfriend and drops in for a few minutes and gives his children token presents and me nothing. My children saw all he was stacking away for her at their ‘Dad’s Christmas’ and then he tells them he can’t afford much this year because of the worldwide global economy crises. He’s like a little puppy around her. Around us he’s all gloomy and full of the woes of the world. Please help.”

Don't try to reason with him....

I am going to assume you want some tips to deal with your ex and your children in the aftermath of a divorce and in the apparent tidal wake of his new-found love. Your already know (or at least surely will be discovering) that you have no control over him.

If you had any (control), he’d still be with you.

The worldwide global economy crises takes years to hit new love – so resist trying to explain or understand the gaps in his reasoning.

Allow your children to ask their father their own questions. Expect no gifts from him.

Try not to access information from the children regarding his new love. Such information will not serve to empower you and nor are the details of his life any of your business.

December 23, 2010

I avoid a family member – are there exceptions?

by Rod Smith

“I found this morning’s column (December 22, 2010) very appropriate to my situation. I have had a strained relationship with a family member by marriage. We hardly have any contact now, and to be honest, I find that this works for me. Life seems less stressful than it used to be. I realise that I am doing exactly the opposite of what you suggest. The woman has been diagnosed a severe emotional and psychological condition and has been physically violent in the past if any of us ever stood up to her, and I do not want that again. Are there occasions where avoidance really is the best option?” (Edited)

Attraction is only enduringly poss

Of course there are exceptions

Of course there are exceptions – there usually are. No one is expected to reconcile (this is different from offering forgiveness) in any relationship where there has been violence of any kind (especially sexual).

I would suggest that what you have termed avoidance may be re-framed as being acts of both self-preservation and wisdom. A quick aside: remember that reconciliation takes at least two persons while forgiveness takes only one.

The Smiths (my sons Thulani and Nathanael and I) in cold and snowbound Indianapolis wish you an extravagant and safe Christmas.

December 22, 2010

Regard your enemies as a gift from God…

by Rod Smith

1. Send an enemy (a boss you didn’t like, a crabby neighbor, the self-righteous prig who works along the hallway) a greeting card.
2. Express forgiveness before it is requested and even if it is not deserved or requested – remember forgiveness is about you, not the person who has hurt or offended you.
3. Approach people whom you’d prefer to avoid – avoiding people gives them power over your life that you probably do not want to give. Why would you allow anyone to dictate your path or your actions?
4. Dance, don’t walk, on eggshells; address the topics that need to be addressed rather than “walk” lightly around them.
5. Clearly use your voice to declare who you are and what you want. If you are silent others will put words into your mouth and meaning into your actions that are far removed from representing you.
6. Boldness does not necessitate brashness or arrogance. Standing up for yourself is a wise. If you don’t, it is unlikely anyone will.
7. Be kind when you meet unkindness, do not return evil for evil, and you will become unusually attractive, even to your enemies.

December 21, 2010

This is the suicide season…..

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly possible.....

I hope you choose life.....

Suicides spike at Christmas and New Year. Untimely death is regarded as a chosen alternative to getting help with financial, addiction, relational, or chemical issues a person might experience.

If this is you, here are some thoughts to consider. I hope you will consider less dramatic, final alternatives.

Suicide is self-destruction. While family members will naturally ask what they could have done to prevent you from taking such action, your death will remain your responsibility. I’d suggest you seek the medical help even if it appears that no one cares if you live or die. At this point it is more important that you care.

Suicide is an ultimate act of prayer and freedom. While no one will be able to stop you in the event that a premature death is what you really want, there are more productive ways to engage the divine and make a statement to your survivors. There are ways to address and almost solve any problem anyone faces.

While your family and friends will reflect, mourn, and grieve over your loss they will ultimately conclude (it might take years) that you exercised your unique, terrible, human power. They will come to understand that no one can cause you to kill yourself or make you do it.

Given your freedom to choose death, I must believe there exists within you the ability to choose life – and I hope you do.

December 20, 2010

Parents and teenagers….

by Rod Smith

The following points are generally true. Of course there are circumstances where they are not:

1. Your parents know more than you know about important matters. I concede that you probably know infinitely more than your parents do about computers, the Internet, and cellular phones; but they do know more about life than you do. Regarding your parents as foolish will not be very good for you even if it offers the illusion of being sophisticated.
2. Your parents want the very best for you even if you do not agree with them about what is best for you. Loving parents want you to go beyond their life’s achievements and so place pressure on you to study and do well in school and to be wise about your relationships.
3. Your parents will tend to look at long-term ramifications of almost everything. You probably focus on the here and now.
4. Your parents want you to have a wonderful future more than you have the capacity to even imagine. This weekend is not considered “the future.”
5. Your parent’s instincts about people are probably wiser than yours. Trust them.
6. Your parents probably want very little from you. Taking time to discover what it is they want will do you much good.

December 19, 2010

I am Muslim; he is Christian – breaking up is not an option…..

by Rod Smith

“I am a Muslim girl in a 8-year relationship with a Christian boy. We both are 23. Religion is the only problem. He does not agree with becoming a Muslim – he believes I should follow his faith from the day we are married. Our families have not tried to break us up but my family insists on him becoming Muslim. His family insists I become Christian. We are extremely committed to each and I know he feels the same. The major problem is his meddling Christian sister who keeps bringing it up. Wherever we go people are amazed that he’s got a Muslim girlfriend and demand to know what his Muslim name is going to be and if he doesn’t change his name, religion, and get circumcised, that my family will kill him. How ridiculous. Strangers’ words affect him and I don’t know what to do. Breaking up is not an option!”

Attraction is only enduringly possible.....

Speak only for yourself....

External pressure will intensify your love. Never under-estimate the power of invisible loyalties that each of you has with each extended family. These pressures will unify you before marriage but will work against you once you are. There is no easy answer. In all circumstances (especially to parents) speak only for yourself, and let him do likewise.

December 18, 2010

Sylvia the hairdresser- how not to evangelize…

by Rod Smith
Attraction is only enduringly possible.....

Meddling is not "witnessing"....

Now my heart warms toward her but this was not always so when it came to Sylvia the Hairdresser.  I could barely go anywhere without her evangelical interference. It dogged my childhood. If I went to the barbershop, she would see my bicycle leaning against the wall, and when I came out, she would summon me sternly into her salon-for-girls to tell me about her Jesus. I felt awkward and exposed just standing there, in the bright pink salon – seeing my freshly shaved head a hundred times in her hard bright mirrors – hearing what a sinner I was, with girls watching.

God loves you was her persistent theme. Clearly, she did not share God’s predisposition towards me. I was a potential convert – a possible testimony to her faithfulness, a feather in her heavenly crown – and come hell or high water, she was going to get me saved. Somehow, according to her, I had already managed to embody all the despicable acts of humanity in one pre-adolescent frame. According to my well-versed Representative, if I failed to immediately repent (from what I did not know, nor did she make clear), even the impending bicycle ride home could terminate my miserable sin-filled life and land me in my well-deserved Hell. Any implication of Scriptural evidence that Jesus loved children was lost on her; every encounter with Sylvia the hairdresser was a foretaste of the very Hell at which she said my life was aimed.

To me, she felt omnipotent. Meeting her could happen anywhere. The encounters were most prolonged when she bought groceries from my dad’s corner store. This was when we both got it – Dad and I. She tried to discuss her practiced presentations of her gospel, she would shrug her shoulders, extend her arms in despair, and mumble about feet and dust and pearls and swine. From behind the counter, I could see dust rising and pearls glittering around her chosen, blessed neck.

She said, “praise the Lord” a lot and never once waited to hear anything from Dad or me. I knew we would never make it with her Jesus. In fact, I was quite sure I preferred not to, knowing she looked forward to a promised preeminent place, ruling and reigning with God forever and ever and ever and ever.

In Sylvia the Hairdresser, the fine art of meddling in the affairs of others, which she called witnessing, was perfected. Because God is all knowing, she made everything her business. No marriage, no illness, no child-rearing practice in her self-declared parish escaped her watchful eye. I knew it was only a matter of time before she would find out I liked to play music. Once she came into our house when I was practicing Lara’s Theme from Dr. Zhivago and she stopped me mid-bar to tell me I was “playing for the devil.” She rampaged about the debauchery that followed young boys who played music for the world. I sat accused, hands spread on the piano keys and wondered how a beautiful melody, played very simply in our living room, was found pleasing to the devil and capable of leading to such destruction, the likes of which in all of my eleven years, I had never heard. “Praise the Lord,” she sang as she left our sleazy home, victory under her belt and my head in a bag.

So how I ever fell in love with Jesus of the New Testament has nothing to do with Sylvia the Hairdresser who dogged my childhood with her evangelical interference, as much as I am told she believes it. Rather, a few people befriended and loved me beyond my deserving. They listened to my wild ideas about faith, love and life, then, when I asked, told me in Whom they believed. And in the telling of such freeing, courageous and beautiful love, I saw the Heart of God.

Rod’s road-post from DROID.

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December 15, 2010

You are cold, uncaring, and arrogant….

by Rod Smith

Attraction is only enduringly possible.....

Sometimes you are correct....

Whenever I write, “get a life” or “victim-hood is unattractive” or “move on” or “blaming your parents has an expiration date”, I usually get mail declaring I am uncaring, cold, arrogant, that I do not understand, that I was having a bad day – or, all of the above.

I concede: I am fully capable arrogance, coldness, of failing to understand, and of having a bad day.

When I suggest someone take up his or her life in the midst of a bad break-up or in the wake of a betrayal, I am doing so out of a deep sense of both understanding and caring, and hopefully, in a spirit of humility.

I know it sounds cold to suggest someone participate in his or her own resurrection from within the rubble of brokenness. But the journey of rebuilding has to start – and there is no better day than today and no better moment than the immediate!

These are the golden expressions of a person who will get well: I will get through this; I can do without a person who swears at me; I will learn about boundaries; I will not be poorly treated by anyone; there’s life after a breakup.

A person who begins speaking this way has begun to “get a life”.

December 14, 2010

He thinks therapy is silly….

by Rod Smith

“My husband does not love me anymore. I am a really jealous person and I have accused him of affairs and he always denies it. Last night he told me that we needed to be fair and that I needed to leave. It scares the living lights out me when I imagine my life without him. He has been gone for most of the day. I don’t want to call. I know that will probably make him angrier and more distant. I noticed also he is not wearing his wedding ring. It really hurts to be told that you are not loved when you still love the other person. I am in no shape, way, or form a perfect person. I have a temper just like he does. I would love to seek therapy but he thinks that kind of thing is silly. I really think I’ve lost him forever. We have been married for 8 years. I guess I am really feeling hopeless right now.”

Victim-hood is most unattractive – get yourself out of it. To assist you, please read This Is Not the Story You Think It Is by Laura Munson. I’d suggest it is essential reading for anyone (male or female) living in a threatened relationship.

December 13, 2010

You did not mention Al-Anon…..

by Rod Smith

“In an article you wrote regarding a wife supporting her husband’s therapy with an addiction specialist for his (the husband’s) sporadic but serious bouts with alcohol, I was concerned that you didn’t mention Al-Anon to the wife. Wherever this person is living, there is an Al-Anon group.

“The Al-Anon Family Groups are a fellowship of relatives and friends of alcohlics who share their experience, strength and hope in order to solve their common problems. We believe alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.

“Al-Anon is not allied with any sect, denomination, political entity, organisation, or institution; does not engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any cause. There are no dues for membership. Al-Anon is self-supporting through its own voluntary contributions.

“Al-Anon has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps, by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics, and by giving understanding and encouragement to the alcoholic.”

Thanks for this reminder. I trust the woman who wrote the initial letter will see your wise suggestion.