Full Circle Relationships~

Full Circle Relationships~

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I hate conflict. I’ve always hated conflict. In fact, I believe I spent many of my “young adult” years avoiding conflict as much as possible, especially in my college years, and early in my role as a Pastor’s wife. Yet conflict is often inevitable. For me, the problem with being IN a conflict was that I felt I needed to fix the relationship as quickly as possible. My nature is to want to be friends and friendly with others to the best of my ability; conflict simply makes me anxious and sad.

Making peace, however, is not always resolving the conflict. Sweeping challenges under a rug is not helpful in sustaining long-term quality relationships. Nevertheless, I have been learning over the past 10 years that if I do what I can to bring resolve, even letting the relationship go for a season, it often comes around “full circle” where resolve and understanding are uniquely applied anew. I have been surprised by this many, many times. Watching this take place in my life both takes me by surprise and, frankly, makes me very happy.

I’ve gained a few insights as I’ve pondered all of this and I want to share just a few with you.

  1. In a conflict, especially in the heat of it, don’t say everything you are thinking. Emotions are interesting and can cause us to respond so defensively or angrily that what we say, in the moment, can cause greater harm than the conflict itself. The example of opening a feather pillow, letting the feathers fly out, and then trying to put them all back inside the pillow is a good picture of how the things we say can be impossible to retract. In a conflict it is better to cautious of what we say if we desire the relationship to have resolve one day.
  2. Be willing to let things go. In many of the full circle relationships I have experienced I have not been “justified” nor have the other parties necessarily apologized. When I look over all the goodness that has surrounded my life, all the blessings…it just doesn’t seem right for me to hang on to disagreements, necessary endings, or misunderstandings. I want to move on, beyond the conflict and be ready to forgive. Life is too short to harbor anger and resentment. Anger changes me; it doesn’t make me the best version of myself!
  3. Learn from the conflict. What was my part? What could I have done better? What should I have avoided? How can I grow from this challenge? My dad used to use the statement about finding a “pony in the poop”! J There is always something to gain from our challenges if we are willing to really dig for it! And, there are always two sides to a relational challenge.
  4. Use the conflict to grow in grace.   Conflicts are real, and sometimes, relational challenges can cause really deep hurts; real scars. And yet as I look at the grace I have been given over and over and over again; unmerited favor, I am challenged to practice grace with those around me. Some situations require more time on my knees but at the end of the day bitterness never wins.
  5. It’s okay to have boundaries in a challenging relationship. There are times when a relationship comes full circle and there is peace where there has been conflict. But~ the relationship may require more caution, even good boundaries in the days forward. Boundaries can be wise if they are applied with kindness and understanding. I have relationships that I know can be toxic; in those instances I will limit the amount of time I spend in connection with them.
  6. Last of all~ never slam the door shut on a relationship.   Honestly, life can be surprising. People Change. Time changes people. Challenges bring fresh understanding. We NEVER know what can and will happen in a relationship; keep the possibilities in front of you.

Reconciliation is at the very heart of God; starting with our reconciliation with Him. His heart is that His people would walk together in peace and understanding. However, this can prove to be a real challenge as we do life with others. In families, in the workplace, in the church, even in the community; conflict can happen. Hopefully you will see relational challenges in your life come full circle in the days ahead as you practice caution with your words, grace and forgiveness, and are willing to own your part! Dr. Phil always says “This situation needs a hero; will it be you?”

Help! Help! Help!

 

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This has been a relationally rich summer. Greg and I have had the joy to host clients, family, and friends in our home every other week since the first of June!  What a privilege to share our lives and to engage in “shoulder to shoulder” activities with them all.  These sweet times truly enrich our lives and I believe, theirs as well!!

Recently, one of our visitors swam farther than they were equipped to swim.  We were at a mountain lake and he  challenged himself to swim across the lake to an area where he could rest upon a floating dock. However, the ladder to the dock had fallen deep to the bottom of the lake. uh oh!  After trying unsuccessfully to climb up on the floating dock he decided to swim back to shore.  Halfway back his legs cramped and shut down having been affected by the cold water and fatigue!    At first he said, “I need help” which quickly turned to a cry!  “HELP!”…..”HELP!”……”HELP!”

It was surreal to see our friend truly struggling to survive. His plea for help became more and more emphatic….he was sinking and he knew it.   My husband heard the cries of his friend and he knew he needed to make every effort to help his friend survive!! Before he sank under the water, Greg jumped in, swam to his friend, held him above the water  leading him to safety.  After resting along the shore, our friend regained his strength and went on to have a wonderful day. Nevertheless, witnessing this experience shook us all up and left me with a clearer understanding about some real live truths. Our friend did nothing wrong, yet LIFE happened uexpectantly and he was wise enough to have not been alone!

We were never meant to “do life” alone.  We weren’t created to depend only on ourselves.  We have been designed to walk through this life in community and with accountability.  The scenario at the lake would have ended differently if our friend had been there alone! Fortunately, he had not made that unwise choice.  We all need to have people around us that want us to survive and thrive! People who will jump in and carry us if needed when we cry out for help!

When we withdraw and silo ourselves from the support and safety of wise counselors we can tend to gravitate toward treacherous waters….to stinking thinking, compromised choices, and unhealthy commitments.  To be protected from these things we need quality people in our lives who can recognize the “danger” and help us to stay on the safe shore.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 says  “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Proverbs 15:22 says “Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.

Proverbs 27:6 says The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

Think about your life today.  Do you have people around you who want to see you stay above water?  Do you have those who are willing to help when you feel like you are drowning in the challenges of life?  If you do then you are richly blessed.  If you do not I sincerely encourage you to be committed to creating a circle of connection in the days ahead.   Just like our friend on the lake…..if you are alone in a crisis, you need to have support.  We were meant to do life together! 🙂

Could It Be Time For A Needed Break?

 

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More often than not, we finally take a break long after the need for it began to arise!  However, what would it look like if we would give ourselves permission to take a break BEFORE we needed it!  Well, perhaps it would be helpful to list some of the telling signs that show us that we are “spent”:

1.  Even upon rising in the morning we feel a sense of dread rather than hope and anticipation. We dread the tasks of the day;we just feel tired.

2.  We find ourselves having a shorter fuse than we normally have. We will react strongly to situations that we would have navigated better when we had greater life balance.

3.  We start to sabotage the “good systems” we have had in place~ excercise, rest, quiet time with the Lord, and “screen free” time. We make excuses saying that we just don’t feel like taking the time.

4.  Often our food choices start to waver.  We start eating foods we know make us feel bad. We tell ourselves “We’ll start eating better on Monday”.

5.  We can begin to feel apathetic.  We can waste our time surfing the web, watching mindless television, ignoring  phone calls, and even turning down invitations from friends.

These are just a few of the signs that we are in need of a break!

Now sometimes we need a break at a time when we cannot take a vacation; cannot disengage from our responsibilities. So, how can we find ways to re-group and catch our breath?  Here’s a few:

1.  Get offline.  If we are overwhelmed the last thing we need is to burden ourselves with media information, mindless games, and even an over-dose of Facebook.  We need to give ourself a chance to breathe!

2.  Take a “staycation”.  Use local attractions to your benefit; live music, picnic in a park, go to a Museum, take a hike, rent a Kayak, take a cooking class, simply take the opportunity to make a refreshing memory.  It’s amazing how activities like these lift our spirits and give us a fresh attitude.

3.  Read or watch something light-hearted~ something that causes rich laughter.

4.  Take a spiritual retreat.  Set aside a full day – somewhere private or peaceful where there would be time to rest, read inspirational thoughts, pray, journal, eat chocolate, a dream again.

5.  Grant permission to say “No.”    We are often exhausted by maintaining activities that have served their time.  Allowing yourself to re-think the activities that fill your weeks and to say “No” to create greater bandwidth is a gift you give yourself!

For all of us; learning when enough is enough will be key. Learning to recognize when our energy is expiring will help us to take that needed break BEFORE we need that break!!  🙂

The Answer is “NO”~~

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Do you have difficulty saying “no”?  Are you always trying to be nice to others at the expense of yourself? Well, you are not alone!!  Many of us are so afraid of disappointing others or making someone mad; we simply say “yes’!  “NO” just feels wrong!

There are so many reasons why we have a rough time saying “no”!  Here are just a few:

1.  We want to be helpful.

2.  We don’t want to be rude.

3.  We want to be agreeable.

4.  We are afraid of conflict.

5.  We don’t want others to feel rejected by us.

Do any of these reasons ring true for you? They do for me.  I hate thinking that my “No” would ever cause another person to feel I didn’t value those things that matter to them!

The real truth is that HOW you say “no” is where the real impact comes in. So, in order for you to have success in saying the needed “no”; here are a few sentences to consider!

a.  ” I cannot commit to this as I have other priorities at this time.”

b.  Now is simply not a good time as I am in the middle of something that demands my attention. Can we talk about it in 9- 12 weeks again?

c.   Let me pray about it and think about for a week or so, then I can get back to you with greater clarity.

d.  I don’t believe I am the best person for this.  How about talking to _________________?

e.  No, I simply cannot; I have other priorities that are eminent at this time.

I believe that by making clear statements about your ability to commit to a task or team, helps others to have the freedom to make wiser choices as well.

Saying ‘No” often takes courage!  It is so hard; we feel guilty and wonder what others will think of us! A great article in Psychology today says this so well; ” NO is a tool where we establish and maintain a distinct perimeter of ourselves.  No says, ” This is who I am, this is what I value, this is what I will choose to do and what I will not choose to do.  We are all committed to loving, giving, cooperating, and pleasing others.  But not at the expense of losing ourselves!”

Consider your on-going commitments today. Is there somewhere that you finally need to say “no”?  Are there great things for you to do but you are stuck doing  good things simply because you fear saying “no” to them to make room for that which is GREAT?   Ponder these thoughts and If “no” is needed; dive in! Say “no”…

God can raise up leaders in His own way so if you need to say NO for a season; He clearly understands!  He will give you wisdom and peace.

Ultimately–when we step into a situation we have little or no time for; we end up resenting the very things we have committed to and that is beyond painful.

say NO if you need to; blame Coach Dianna if you want to! 🙂