April 22, 2017
Nine simple truths –
May they be your first thoughts every morning and may they infiltrate your every move and every relationship:
- To be respected and treasured and able to respect and treasure all other people.
- Capable of expressing my opinions and will do so with growing and greater confidence.
- Uniquely gifted and my gifts are useful to my immediate and broader community.
- As unique as the proverbial snowflake and yet part of the human family, tainted with its vulnerabilities, failures, and frailties.
- Capable of forgiving the worst of offenses I have endured, and capable of seeking forgiveness for the worst offenses I have committed.
- Able to encourage the discouraged and offer hope to the hopeless.
- Unafraid of the talents of others and able and willing to help others find their greatness.
- Capable of becoming the most generous person I know.
- My own best friend so that I may be a friend to others.
April 17, 2017
Talk about what you would like to do more as a family and what would we prefer to do less as a family. The list may include monumental challenges that take years to address. The list may include things that can be changed in an instant.
Talk about what you would each like to do more, and less, as individuals in the family. As above, some may be really easy and some may take seemingly forever.
Plan something meaningful and unusual (“off the charts”) that the family agrees to work toward. This may be a trip, a building project, or entering as a family into a race.
Discuss (according to age, ability, and appropriateness) topics that are usually taboo like death, sex, finances, and family secrets. Discuss why they are taboo in the first place. When and why and how did the secret become a secret. Who decides what is and what is not a secret?
Consult a professional who is able to construct a Genogram with your family. Request that it span three generations. This will (potentially) alert family members to troublesome trends and urges that pre-exist within the family system and therefore (potentially) equip members to face them if and when they emerge again. Nothing in families is new!
April 13, 2017
Unhindered attention: you have my ears, my eyes, my brain and my heart for this time, this hour, this meal, or this weekend.
Unilateral forgiveness: you have a fresh, completely new start with me even though we have a rich history. This means that, as much as it is possible, at least from my side, our pasts will not disrupt the present or impede the future.
Absolute freedom: you have God-given freedom that mine to honor, and so I will allow nothing in my behavior or attitudes to get in the way of your full enjoyment of the freedom that is divinely yours.
Room to discover: limited only by how much courage you have within you, you have the freedom to explore your talents, develop your skills, and pursue your dreams, and I will applaud you as you do so at every turn.
A safe zone: you may rest with me, be off duty with me, decompress with me. You may succeed. You may fail. You may talk about your worries or be as carefree as you need. I want to be a safe person for you and to learn how to be when I am not.
April 2, 2017
Mondays – celebrating the first workday of the week:
I love Mondays although I have not always done so. I especially enjoy the first Monday of the month.
Mondays are a reset button. They are an opportunity to set new goals and to reset goals that have lapsed. They are a new beginning, a fresh start and an internal blank slate, a new baseline. Whatever metaphor you employ, I’d suggest we reject the term “blue-Monday” from here on out and switch it for “Magnificent Monday.”
Mondays are an opportunity to love life and to love the lives of those around you and I don’t only mean family and loved ones. Mondays are an opportunity to see the miracle within all people and to affirm human resilience.
Mondays are an opportunity to affirm the spiritual nature of all things, from the most mundane, like getting up and getting ready for the commute to work to the most glorious, like the opportunity to pay debts, thank coworkers, and be part of a vibrant, even conflicted community.
Mondays are a wonderful opportunity to be generous, to be forgiving, and to encourage. They are an opportunity to set the stage for the change you’d like to see in your own life and to measure and assess progress 50-plus times a year.
February 27, 2017
Ten signs of the presence of spiritual abuse, manipulation, domination, or intimidation.
Spiritual Abuse (always on a continuum) is occurring when a pastor, leader, or even a friend:
- “Hears” God for you. God apparently “goes through” him/her to speak to you. This requires a sense of superiority – from him or her and is often framed as being “more mature,” and a sense of being “less” from you.
- Alienates (shuns, ignores) you if you do not adhere to his/her guidance, leadership, or authority. This is usually VERY subtle – so it is easy to deny.
- Suggests that rejection of his/her “higher understanding” is done so at your spiritual or even physical peril. You will hear things like, “Be careful. You will move yourself from the covering and protection of God if you don’t listen to me.”
- Rewards your obedience with inclusion, and punishes your questioning or resistance with withdrawal. Compliance gets stroked; resistance gets struck.
- Demands “cathartic” honesty. Unless you spew out every detail of your life you must be hiding or withholding something and that “something” will, of course, impede your spiritual development.
- Lavishes you with praise, acceptance, and understanding when you are “good” and “pushes” you away when you are “bad.”
- Is apparently fixated on the use of titles like reverend, pastor, elder and cannot appear to relax in the company of “ordinary” mortals. The issue is not in the use of legitimate titles (or robes or religious garb) – it is that identity seems impossible without the titles or the trappings.
- Leaves a trail of cut-off relationships. Usually in the trail are those who refuse to bow, to submit, to stand in awe of, to be thoroughly entranced by, the will of the pastor, the leader or the friend. Always regard with suspicion or caution leaders who are cut off or alienated from members of their family, especially their parents.
- Lives from a “for me/or against me,” “black/white,” “all/or nothing” platform of “relationships.”
- Genuinely sees God’s Call so zealously, so fervently that any signs of resistance are seen as the expressions of The Enemy or an enemy – thus, relationships are expedient (disposable) in the light of getting on with God’s work.
The perpetrators of abuse apparently fail to see that reconciliation, and forgiveness, “space,” and room to move, and room to respectfully disagree (boundaries, morality) are all part of the glorious work of the Gospel.
Freedom begins with recognition. Recognition must result in action.
Stand up to those who misuse their positions of leadership. Spiritual abuse serves the welfare or neither the perpetrator nor the victim – quite apart from the disservice it does to the church.
All authentic holiness, spirituality, Godliness, is LOCAL. If it’s not present and respectful in the most immediate one-to-one relationships (spouse, child, secretary, mail-carrier, in the traffic, at the airline check-in, with the dog) it will not be authentic in the one-to-many relationships, no matter how many thousands or tens of thousands make up the many.
February 26, 2017
A conversation means we both speak. You speak, I listen; I speak, you listen. We take turns. We build on what each of us has said. We ask questions related to content already shared. It’s really quite simple.
Appearing to listen while you are really waiting to speak is not listening.
The split-second you decide you know what I am going to say or think you have heard it all before is when you stopped hearing.
When I am talking and your eye contact is with your phone you are not listening. And, no, this is not the new form of multitasking. Listening takes focus and respect.
When I tell you something, respond to what I have said. Following what I’ve said with your bigger, better story, related or unrelated, reduces conversations to competitions.
Unless you are genuinely affirming people we both know I’d suggest we leave all others out of our conversation.
Our routine one-liners and well-worn war stories serve as shields. If we are really going to talk we either have to get them out of the way early on in our dialogue or we have to agree to focus on content neither of us has shared with each other before.
July 17, 2012
Is found in our connection with others (a connection sufficiently powerful so that we are not alone) and can therefore give and receive strength to and from each other. It is yet separate enough so that we not drain each other of the adventure of being unique and distinct beings. This is one of the greatest blessings accompanying our humanity and, when it fails, it becomes the source of exceedingly powerful pain.
July 14, 2012
1. You experience greater OBJECTIVITY and can “see” your most important relationships as if looking at them through someone else’s eyes.
2. Despite any pain, any trauma, any uncertainty, you can see some HUMOUR in what you are experiencing even if it is short lived.
3. You are progressively gathering a small community of friends who know everything (or almost everything) about you and their SUPPORT is becoming easier to trust.
4. You are seeing with greater and greater CLARITY what are and what are not your responsibilities within your most important relationships.
5.”No” comes easier and it is not accompanied by guilt. “Yes” is your response when you really want what you agree to. You begin to BELIEVE the words you say. Your words reflect you, your desires, and are not said from guilt or the impulse to keep the peace or make others happy.
July 13, 2012
Love and control cannot co-exist in the same relationship anymore than light and dark can exist together in the same space at the same time.