Tag: self-improvement

When Your Friend Has One of Those Drama Fits, and You’re Trying to Be a Good Christian

 

 

I’ve had one of those weeks where somebody you thought was a friend turns out to be worse than an enemy. I’ve got to be a little vague, because I don’t want it to seem like I’m gossiping. And for the record, I won’t gossip about it, let’s not go there, please don’t ask me who it was. But I was attacked, some of those around me were hit by the flying mortars, and she went over my head to complain about me.

I would have taken a bullet for her – then I saw she was the one behind the trigger.

You’ve been there. Your stomach clenches and churns; your heart races, and its all you can think about. You get absolutely nothing else done because your mind keeps returning to The Situation. Eventually, you get a headache, or your back hurts, or you throw up.

You feel guilty, even though you’ve bent over backwards to try to make it right with this person and there isn’t any making it right. The agenda is not yours to control, and it goes from bad to worse as you try your best to fix it. In truth isn’t about making it right or smoothing it over or fixing it; it’s about this person being able to say she was victimized, she was stabbed in the heart by the dagger you hold, and you were responsible (even if you weren’t).

“You and I spend way too much time worrying about the fact that we were accused,” my daughter said. “Even if you had done what she’s accusing you of – there is no excuse for her behavior.”

It’s a really good point. The behavior was so outrageous I could laugh – except I can’t. Because I’m still on the verge of crying. Or throwing up. Or both.

I also question what I’ve done wrong in this situation. Could I have handled it better, or differently? Which leads me to thinking about mercy: did I have enough?

It’s something I think about often, because to me mercy, love and grace are three requirements for living well.

“You’re showing her a lot more mercy than I would,” a friend says. I get that a lot. I don’t really mind because I want to show mercy.

 The Bible is my guide for living and it says,
“The Lord comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:4 NIV).

Here is the same verse in a different translation, The Message, which I love:
 “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (2 Corinthians 1:4, The Message ).

The struggles we have, the ones you have and I have, have shaped us to be the people that we are. Those struggles have made us able to sympathize with people who are in need. Which is exactly why we can reach out and give us “the same comfort God has given us.”

Which is why I question myself.

Because I know this person is in need, I know that she struggles. I know she doesn’t have a lot of friends, and she considered me one of them. Before she attacked me. Before she burned all the bridges, and turned back around and built structures over them so that there was no way to ever go back.

And said, “I’ve blocked you on Facebook” like a third-grader.

Mostly I feel sad. I’m sad that she reached out and clawed, swiping again and again at me like a feral cat. I’m sad that she has lied, and will continue to lie. I know that those lies will be repeated to others, who may or may not believe them. A long time ago this would have hurt me and I would’ve spent a lot of time worrying about whether people would believe it or not. Now I just share sadness with her, sorrow that we’ve both lost a friendship over a simple mistake, a stupid misunderstanding that could have been resolved with a one-minute conversation. I’m sad for all the people like her who feel the need to create drama and twist and manipulate, and lose their friends. (I do that. I encompass the whole world, while I’m at it.)

I’m sad that people can be our age and still go through this.

I read back over our emails to each other endlessly, pointlessly. “Please call me,” I begged from the beginning. “I know we can resolve this just call me,” another one implored. No calls, as is her modus operandi. Just the sudden irrational attacks. And Facebook blocking, which I know people do all the time but it seems so…childish. Like: I have the POWER to block you! On Facebook!

Please.

To me mercy, love and grace are three requirements for living well.

I read back over the 2 Corinthians verse again, The Message version. I realize and I’m comforted by the fact that God will bring her alongside of somebody else, not me, who can comfort her. It’s not my problem. It’s not my job.

“Wow,” one of the standers-by who got dragged in and hit by shrapnel emailed me. “Best we move on.” (She was similarly given the don’t-contact-me-anymore order)

We should, and we will. I find myself okay with that, and okay in general – something that lets me know I’m in a really good place right now. I feel a measure of peace because I did the best I could, even if it wasn’t right or enough or there was some other agenda going on to negate my efforts. I feel good because I’m surrounded by an incredible group of close friends and the most wonderful husband anybody could imagine. Those are the people you need when things like this happen, and they’ve all come through.

There’s always a moral, a take-away, and this is no different. I believe the unhappiness, bewilderment, and ultimate coming-apart of this friendship happened because of a misunderstanding.

Yet we both made a commitment in the very beginning of the email barrage not to have that. “I don’t want any misunderstands [sic]” she wrote in the second one. “I don’t either, that is why I want you to call me,” I wrote back. She didn’t.

In life, we misunderstand, miscommunicate, and don’t hear each other.  We don’t make time for (proper) communication. We know we need to listen better, so we make promises like I will communicate more by phone, not text. Or I will listen to my wife better. Or I will be present when someone is talking.

Then we forget, and the miscommunication starts and we are upset and have headaches and lose people who are important to us. That is my take-away.

To that end, I’ve made a list of ways we can communicate better. The link is the big graphic at the bottom of this post. The list works from both ends (talking and listening) and although I have a Biblical worldview, it isn’t strictly a “Christian” list. Meaning some parts may related to a Bible verse, but there is no citation. They’re just my suggestions, actually they are more a very short “Notes to Self” than anything formal or spectacular. Maybe someday I’ll make it into an ebook or something, but for now it’s like lifting a bit out of my diary. Take what you like and try it. Let me know how it turns out.

“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”
― J.K. Rowling

One Sentence You Need to Let Go of Right Now

Choose Prayer gif



We all have times when we think our circumstances can’t change, or we think there’s no way this can work out. We have dreams no one else knows about, but we’re fairly sure they’ll remain just that: dreams. We struggle because we really secretly want that dream, or the change in that circumstance, or a solution to a problem. We want someone’s health to improve. We want our child to do well in school.

You know what really bothers me? When we say “I guess we’ll just have to pray about it.

As we say it, the shoulders sort of shrug and the posture’s a little hunched. “I guess…” is equivalent to saying, “I know this really isn’t a solution, but I can’t think of anything better at the moment.”

I guess we’ll just have to pray about it. I guess, until something better comes along, we can pray. Maybe that will hold us in place until we find the real solution.

And we’ll just have to. Just: a lowly place. Have to: something we don’t want to do.

You know what really bothers me? When we say “I guess we’ll just have to pray about it.”

So we’re shrugging, a little stooped, lowly, not really desiring to go to the Lord in prayer for our answer. Mumbling a stop-gap.

Now, wait just a minute. I’m a believer. I believe in God the Father. I believe, in fact I KNOW he can work behind the scenes and inside of people, inside the ones in this circumstance. Inside me, inside you – he can create change. And He’s there before we get there, working on that change. He knew the change was needed before you did. Before I even thought about it.

In Him there is strength and wisdom. He holds the knowledge – the key to this situation.

Now, God will let the circumstance or process go on if it means your disappointment, your struggle, your heartache will ultimately prosper you. It might help you grow. It might help you heal. It might help you see God differently. Faith sees us through that part.

And if you don’t give up – you will be prepared for the wonderful-ness that He has in store for you. (You weren’t thinking about giving up, were you?) He promises that with Him, all things are possible! That’s power. You have options – you aren’t stuck in that circumstance, or a hundred light years away from that dream. You can walk directly beside Him by trusting Him, by praying to Him about it and believing He will make the changes that are best for you, and praising Him throughout all the good and bad times.  Praise him when your spouse leaves a note on the table saying she’s moved out. Praise him when a loved one is diagnosed with cancer. Praise him when you with your human viewpoint can’t imagine how that addiction is ever going to be cured.

Choose to trust Him, and in choosing it you are also electing to live your life differently. You’re able to look for His goodness and “taste and see” what He has in store. You can relax, knowing who’s got your back. You know His strength, and you’ve put your trust in it.

When you have chosen this path, your posture will be a little straighter, your voice will be stronger, more commanding, and the next time “I guess we’ll just have to pray about it” will become “Let’s pray.”

Let’s take it to the Lord. Let’s find out from the Almighty, the Creator, the All-knowing, All-seeing One – yeah let’s see what He has to say about it.

There is power in the name of God.

Choose trust. Choose faith. Choose prayer.

Related Verse
“…with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26, NIV

 

 

Road to Happiness: 3 Ways to Experience Joy

I have a cockatiel that loves to whistle the song “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands.” He of course, can’t clap his hands claws, so he clicks with his tongue. He likes that song so much he tangles it into most of the other things he whistles. As a result of hearing it 14 hours a day, I sing it a lot too. Sometimes I even clap.

I wonder how our lives would be different if we continually sang such a song? It could be out loud, or simply in our heads. It doesn’t have to be a child’s verse. It can be your own creation. It could be a hymn or praise song, or just a mantra.  Something to reflect the deep joy of being alive, being God’s creation…just being. We are promised:

1 Peter 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

True joy floods the soul. It overwhelms with a sense of comfort, of well-being, of love.

One reason we don’t feel that joy continually is that we don’t slow down. We’re overstimulated, bombarded with noise and offers and things that want to pull us in every direction all day, every day. Because of that, we are in such a hurried, harried state of mind that we miss the joy. What a tragedy!

Here are some ways to be sure you experience the joy:

Savor the existence of the Father.  Slow down to feel His presence, to appreciate His intervention.

“Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” Isaiah 30:21

Who else but us has this awesome private GPS signal?

Savor the blessings.  “What?” you ask, startled. As if there isn’t a blessing.

You’ve probably been so buried in work and home and church and life that you forgot about blessings altogether.

If one doesn’t come to mind immediately, try simply loving the moment. Spend today, just a day,  loving  your tiny patch of the world, with all its warts and turmoil and chaos and stuff. No, the world isn’t perfect. Yes, you wish your daughter wasn’t such a drama queen. You don’t understand why your friend talks behind your back, nor why your husband insists on being so loud.

But all in all, the world is a pretty good place and you are blessed.

Be the Optimist. You know that gal who’s always positive, who always sees the blessing in a situation? Be her.

To an optimist, obstacles are challenges. Waiting is God’s way of making you grow. She never sees loss as failure, but as a chance to change, and she opens her eyes for the next blessing headed her way.

People who think this way see life as full of opportunities. They tune in to God in order to see what awesome adventure is coming next. Their upbeat attitude is contagious.

You see, even non-Christians know that deep joy can’t happen until you are able to slow down, to embrace, to radically experience it. Sometimes the smallest things can bring great joy. Pause and allow yourself to encounter joy today.

Need More? Try the Get Closer to God ecourse.

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5 Ways to Humble Yourself Now

 

Humility (NOUN) The quality or condition of being humble; modest opinion or estimate of one’s own importance, rank, etc.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:10

Recently I was writing a piece on humility, and immediately the Lord went to work on me. You need to practice it yourself.

Ugh.

So, off I went to do even more research on the practice of being humble. Here are some ways to humble yourself right now. I hope they are helpful.

Meditate on the greatness of God. When we truly submit to the One Who Is All That Is Holy, we realize that everything about us is from him and we have no control over anything in this world.

Be gracious. Ephesians 4:29 says, ” Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Is what you say building others up, or do you spend a lot of time in putdowns and gossip? Make a decision to only say things that will build others up.

Serve. Whenever you serve anyone in any way, you are building up the kingdom of God. Try to find someone every day that you can serve. This could be anything from bringing a cup of coffee to providing money to someone in need. You might find a senior who needs a ride someplace. Better yet, find a way to serve in secret, and never let anyone know!

Submit to all authority. This is difficult in today’s world, because we believe strongly in individualism. But we have many authorities in our lives – our pastor, teachers, and superiors on the job.

 Create a lowly place. Remember when Jesus said that if you go to your friend’ s table, you should sit in the lowest place of importance? Often, what we strive for is recognition when we need to strive for is honoring others. Look for the lowly place, and go there.

Pride comes to us naturally, and yet your mother probably always told you that pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). It is only by living as a conduit for God’s service that we become humble. Commit yourself today

For further reading: 1 Peter 3:8 – 17, James 4.

**My links today are in the NIV. To change versions, when you get to the link look at the drop-down box on the right that says NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Click there, and scroll to any version you choose.

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