Full Circle Relationships~

Full Circle Relationships~

KEEP-CALM-AND-BUILD-FRIENDSHIPS-MMM-02-11-2013-150x150

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?”

Pardon Me!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We have all experienced it…..at least once in our lives.  We have all faced situations where there has been misunderstanding, hurtful indictments, poor communication, and decisions made that we may not have agreed with.  These experiences can be within our families, in the workplace, in our churches, or in our community involvements.  But I think I can safely say that we all get to walk through that experience at least once!

The real challenge comes when we try to navigate these situations that cause us to feel offended, hurt, misrepresented, and misunderstood.  Most often our first response is to want to “be right”, to defend ourselves, and to let the walls start to build between ourselves and those we feel have treated us unfairly.

In the early years when my husband was a young pastor, we experienced hurtful situations that caused us to feel disrespected and offended numerous times.  We were young and truly didn’t anticipate these kinds of relational challenges.  We could feel resentments causing us to change from positive, caring people to reactive, offendable people and that’s not who we wanted to be.

Over the years we have had to learn to let the outcome of these situations go .  As we  have chosen to PARDON those with whom we have felt disrespected and indicted, even when the offenders have not acknowledged any wrong-doing,  even when we haven’t been able to justify ourselves ~ We have been able to move on and flourish!   We’ve had to start with the choice to forgive; the feelings have followed over time.

Another choice we have to make is to pardon ourselves for the part we have played in the conflict.  We are never 100% right so there is always something that we have contributed to make the situation more challenging.  If we can own our part, learn from it, and forgive ourselves we can move on in an emotionally healthy way.

Here’s an interesting paraphrase from John 12:24 ” Let your expectations go.  You took a loss.  You’ve complained and grieved.  To hold onto it any longer is counter-productive.  It’s time to let it go or you will remain stuck.  When you let it go you will get your life back and you will prosper.”

Have you walked through situations that have left you wounded?  Have you let your emotions remain intrenched in your hurt?  Is it time to get free?  Is it time to pardon both offender(s)  and yourself? Don’t let offenses change you into a version of yourself that even you don’t like.  You be the hero and hand out the first pardon today.

“…and forgive us our debts AS we forgive our debtors.”  (Lord’s Prayer)

 

What will be said of Me?

index

 

I have a wonderful privilege of gathering with some amazing women every other week to spend time talking about the things that we care deeply about.  We discuss the season of life we are presently in and look for quality ways to navigate the many challenges and opportunities we encounter everyday. We talk about learning to say our “best yes”, to make sure we find ways to re-fuel in order to be the best version of ourselves, and we look at focusing on those things we consider the highest priorities at this time, using them as a good filter when choosing how to best use our time.  These conversations are always rich and encouraging.

Last night we spent our time talking about Legacy.  We were all able to point to a person in our life who impacted us in a powerful way. Each one of us teared up simply talking about it! We could clearly see that without the gift of that person having touched our lives we would not be the women we are today.  Then we turned our attention to the fact that each one of us could be “that” person in someone’s life.  Down the road when a group of women gather, perhaps our name with be the one mentioned when expressing appreciation for key impact on their lives.  This is what leaving a Legacy looks like.  Lasting impact.

In a small study written by Dr. James Dobson, he expresses Legacy this way:

“Legacy is what future generations recall about you. You are a patriarch or a matriarch and your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will take what you have done with your life and build on their own lives.  It is the continuation of your ministry and influence (both positive and negative) beyond your lifetime, reflecting what you value and what you believe is important.”

Wow, does that mean that the choices, behaviours, values, and traditions we do ( or don’t) intentionally choose will be passed on to our future family? You bet!  Think about your family of origin; is there a legacy you feel compelled to carry forward?  Perhaps that legacy was unhealthy and you now have the chance to make choices that will turn it around in your generation.  Choosing to leave a good and lasting Legacy requires intentionality, long-term vision, strong values, and time spent building rich relationships.  We all have a choice as to the Legacy we leave behind.

Look at your life today and answer this question: “Who influenced you to be who you are today and how does their Legacy encourage you to leave behind a Legacy that continues to bear good fruit in the lives of those you dearly love? Take time to write out the type of Legacy you would like to leave behind and then make choices consistent with your hearts desire.  🙂

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” ~ Shannon L. Alder

Is Your Baggage Affecting Your Life?

images

We all have baggage don’t we?  As we navigate our lives with people, professions, challenges, and changes our baggage will show up, we can count on it.  Sometimes the baggage with be very evident and sometimes it sits under the surface but ~ we all carry around some baggage.

Recently our church has been doing a quality series on the Baggage in our lives.  We have been given some good steps to help us to get free of our baggage IF we are willing to do the work. Walking out healthy lives will require all of us to do some inventory to see just what our personal baggage is, how it affects us, and how does it affect those around us?.

Les Parrot and Dr. Neil Clark in their article ” Losing your Emotional Baggage express this thought   “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply lose our emotional baggage the same way our luggage gets lost by airline companies? If only we could turn off our emotions and memories that easily.”   “History is what has happened in our lives. Baggage is how we feel about it. Your perspective on your past determines, to a great extent, your personal health and vitality.”

Those statements make it sound as if our Baggage holds the power of negatively affecting our whole life if we never take the time to address it.

Our baggage may come from a traumatic upbringing and yet even those from healthy homes walk away with baggage as well.  The way we experience and perceive the events of our lives; no matter what, can shape the type of baggage that we carry.

I grew up in a family where I knew I was loved.  However, many hours of my young life were spent attending church events.  Though I gained a lot of wonderful mentoring in those days I also heard the teaching of sini I learned that if I wasn’t sinless I would indeed be “left behind.”  This consistent teaching created fear and self loathing in me because I knew I was not a perfect person–therefore, unacceptable.  I realize that this teaching may have been taught with the best of intentions, but my PERCEPTION was that I would never measure up enough to be loved by God.  The baggage I carried from that experience followed me into adulthood as a Pastor’s wife.  My perception of that teaching caused me to feel uncertain, to have trust issues with God, and made me afraid to teach because I felt unworthy.  This baggage took a long time to lay down–well into my 30’s.   When I was able to “unpack” my baggage and seek out what was really true about God’s heart for me, I gained fresh freedom.

So how can we begin to un-pack our Baggage and walk in fresh freedom?

1. Get some outside insight:  Ask trusted friends or family if they can see any “blind spots” that keep sabotaging your relationships or occupations.  Identify the themes and try to find the source of this baggage.

2. Take some time to reflect of past hurts or disappointments.  Are you carrying baggage into this season of your life because you refuse to forgive, haven’t tried to gain real truth? feel like a victim?  Are you bitter?  If we won’t look at these things we will always be a slave to them.  Be brave.  Look at your challenges and ask yourself if being free of the baggage would be worth the effort it will take to move forward.

3.  Choose to forgive.  It’s said that “unforgiveness is like feeding ourselves poison while hoping our enemy dies!”.  When we choose to forgive the people and experiences that “handed” our baggage to us, we open the door to freedom ourselves.  Forgiveness does not mean we minimize the pain, that our offender’s behaviour has been acceptable, or that we have to reignite situations and relationships that are simply unhealthy for us.  It simply means we lay it down.  Piece by piece we drop off one “suitcase” after another until we can stand tall, breathe deep, and experience a hope like never before. In the same article mentioned above the authors express “Letting go is not easy and a person may not deserve forgiveness and may not even ask for it, but you should extend forgiveness because of what it will do for you. You may also need to forgive yourself.”

Walk in renewed freedom and hope today!

1aef7874868e96026cff722445dba46a

Some Relationships are Worth Extra Effort~

 

images

Do you hate conflict? I sure do!! I used to run from it for many years; never expressing myself, wanting to please and appease! But I have learned two things:

1.  It’s so important to address challenges/disagreements in relationships.

2.  It’s so important to be willing to be humble to “not be right” in order to maintain relationships that DO matter.

In my life I am clearly aware that I have friendships/relationships that I want to, well, last forever.  There are times, even in those key relationships, that there may be disagreements.  How do we navigate some of those challenges without losing the friendship? Well, I am still learning.

There are times when it’s important to set boundaries on toxic or untrustworthy relationships…but there are also times when we might want to walk away from a relationship where there has been a challenge and yet, we know in our hearts we want them in our life!

Questions we can ask ourselves in these instances are these:

1. Though there may be a conflict right now, would I be saddened to lose my relationship because of our present challenge?

2.  Could there be a bridge built in our relationship if I humble myself and try to understand the heart and season of my friend?

3. Can I extend grace and am I willing to move forward?

Relationships are so important, take care, wisdom, and a humble heart to navigate~~ but they are worth it!!!

Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

John 15:13“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Things we might regret~

images

This past week I had the privilege of traveling with my mother and her sister on a road trip to see one of their lifelong friends a few hours away.  This would be a 3 day trip full of laughter, meaningful conversations, shared memories from days gone by, and lots of reminiscing.   I enjoyed the time I had with them all; each of them are so precious to me.  One of the comments was that “time has just gone by so very quickly”, I even see this in my own life as I am celebrating 30 years of marriage this week.  Life does indeed move forward quickly.

Since I returned from the road trip I have been looking at my own life and asking the question, “am I doing all I can to live this life well, with purpose and meaning?”  As I think about that question my answer is “yes, some of the time.” I could do better.

I began to ponder the question, “What might we all regret when we get into our twilight years?”  and I came up with a list of things to consider.

1.  Not stopping to appreciate the “moment”.  Living life so busy-minded that we miss so many amazing moments all around us.

2.  Not traveling when we could have.  Seeing and experiencing other cultures makes a huge difference in our world view and can create memories to last forever.

3.  Holding grudges.  How sad to live life as a hostage to hurt feelings! Gotta let it go!

4.  Not having taken time to get to know God~ to invite Him into our lives. He gave us the very breath we breathe; how amazing to have a life knowing and trusting in Him.

5.  Not having taken time to volunteer.  Life is so much richer when we take time to come alongside those wanting to make a difference!

6.  Not spending intentional time with loved ones.  It’s a sad truth to realize that we don’t know how long we get to have those we love in our lives.  It’s best not to put relationships off “till tomorrow”.

7.  Caring too much what others think.   We will never please everyone all the time.  As much as we may try, there will always be those who see us through a filter that we cannot control.  Care more about being the best YOU that you can be!

8.  Working too much.   Decide when then work day needs to be done.  Disengage and fill your life with life-giving activities and people.

9.  Never having taken risks to pursue a dream.   Do you have a dream in your heart? Are you playing it so safe that your dream will never be realized?

10. Worrying too much.   Life is complicated and uncertain.  All of us could focus on areas of concern and find ourselves consumed with fear and worry.  However, worry robs us of joy.  We will regret having spent our days burdened and concerned.

It was fun to hear of all the ways my mom and her sister intentionally built memories from childhood till now.  When life was hard for them; they created space for joy and laughter.  When life has been joy-filled they have intentionally celebrated those moments with gratefulness.  No matter what stage of life you may be in; ask yourself if there’s anything on my list that YOU may regret someday.  If there is there’s no time like the present to turn it around! 🙂

The Power of the Cross~

images

As a young girl I loved Easter because I got a new frilly dress, a basketful of various forms of “goodies”, and my family always gathered together to eat and engage in the fun of a big ol’ Easter egg hunt.  I have lots of sweet memories of those days.

As I got older, I would hear about the sacrifice Christ made for me, but could not grasp the depth of what that meant for my life.  I knew I felt emotional, teary at the Easter services, but the idea that anyone would ever experience THAT kind of torment for me? Unfathomable!! I did not understand the gravity of the Cross.  I remember many years where the family would gather on Easter evening and the major TV networks would play the movie “The Ten Commandments”; still to this day I cannot figure out what that story had to do with Easter.  Perhaps it diffused the message of the Cross.

We wear crosses around our necks, I’ve seen tattoos of the cross on many an arm, and we have crosses displayed in a great deal of our churches. Yet, we can only begin to feel the Power of the Cross when we apply to ourselves personally; He did it for me!! For me!! I look at my life, my choices, and my challenges; I don’t deserve to be loved and forgiven in this way!  and yet, He did it for me….

Last night I had the privilege of walking through the Stations of the Cross.  It was a vivid experience as I knew with every step toward a new station I was walking nearer and nearer to the Cross. The moment was powerful to my soul when I rounded the corner of the room. My eyes were fixed on the Cross lying on the ground; nails still in place.  I wept with sadness and with joy.  I felt the gravity of the cost for my forgiveness. I felt the power of the Cross.

The Apostle Paul said it best; “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Grateful and humbled this Good Friday.

4 Keys for a Joy-Filled Life~~

key

Life is unpredictable.  Life has challenges.  Life can sometimes steal our joy; let’s just be honest about that.  We cannot control everything that comes our way, even if we wish we could! This is why we should be compelled to maintain some key elements in our lives that will help us keep our balance and joy even when faced with uncertainties.

Here are 4 keys that I believe to be essential to maintain a joy-filled life:

1.  LAUGHTER:   There’s just nothing like laughter to release the tension that builds up in our daily lives. A good belly laugh can turn our day completely around! Kathryn Hepburn was quoted as saying  “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”  I have to agree! Laughter takes our minds off our “to do” list, our sadness, or our anxieties and allows us to catch our breath!  Ignoring the need for laughter will cause us all to become very serious and introspective.  So plan to lighten up a couple of times a day~~LAUGH!

2.  FORGIVENESS: Martin Luther King said; Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” This means forgiveness is a choice.  I “choose” to be unoffendable yet when I am offended I will seek to walk in forgiveness as a gift to myself! Walking in unforgiveness can change us.  Walking in unforgiveness is draining. Walking in unforgiveness steals our joy.  In an article written by Charles Stanly he said that  “It’s probably not surprising to hear that resentment impacts the mind and spirit, but you may not have realized what a physical toll it can also take on us. An attitude of bitterness ratchets up tension and anxiety, which can affect everything from muscles to chemical balance in the brain. Over time, that kind of mayhem weakens the body.”
Therefore If we seek reconciliation when we can and choose forgiveness always, we will stand a greater chance of experiencing a consistent joy-filled life.

3.  Quality Relationships:  Quality relationships are those that bring energy to you as a person.  I’m talking about the deep, unreserved relationships you have within the circle of family and friends that you have. Who are the people who know you and have weathered storms and joys alongside you?  Who are the people who love you unconditionally and call just to see how you’re doing?  Who are those who would never indict you but would have your back in any situation? Isolation is a joy stealer, we all need a handful of people who will lift our spirits when we are down, laugh with us when we need to unwind, and celebrate with us when we are experiencing even a small victory! These are the relationships that deserve to be placed on your calendar and nurtured!  Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.
George Eliot

4.  Times of Solitude:  Unplug.  Turn of your phone. Back away from the computer. Breathe.   Take some time to be silent.  To read or reflect. Take time to pray or journal.  Don’t see this as a waste of time, but as an integral part of your day. We all need periods of solitude, although temperamentally we probably differ in the amount of solitude we need. However, some solitude is essential; It gives us time to explore who we are and how we feel. Solitude gives us a chance to regain perspective. It renews us for the challenges of life. It allows us to get (back) into the position of driving our own lives, rather than having them run by schedules and demands from without. Times of solitude are also a time to connect with God, giving you time to listen to what He may be saying to you. Making times of solitude a priority in your life will help you to find joy; even in the midst of a busy, or challenging season of life.

Begin to practice these 4 Keys on a regular basis and you will begin to see how valuable they are right away!  I want you to live a life that is Joy-filled. THAT is my hope for you! 🙂

How’s your EQ?

index

We are all familiar with the term IQ, right?  This term IQ (Intelligence Quotient) is a score derived from one of several standardized tests designed to access intelligence, a persons cognitive ability as compared to the general population.  The term “genius” is often used when talking about someone with a really high IQ. We might assume that someone with a high IQ would naturally become a success in all that they do, however there is another HUGE factor beyond IQ that can have a profound impact on success; personal or professional.  That factor is your EQ!

The term EQ (Emotional Intelligence) is the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and diffuse conflict. The level of your EQ impacts many different aspects of our daily lives in both our homes and places of work.

Think about these 4 questions:

1.  How self-aware are you?   Do you recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behaviours, your self-confidence, or your responses? Can you see how your emotions affect those around you?

2.  How well do you manage your emotions?  Are you able to control your impulsive feelings or behaviours, manage your emotions in a healthy way, take good initiative when needed, and follow through on your commitments?

3.  How high is your social awareness?  Can you understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people? Are you able to pick up emotional cues, and recognize key dynamics in a group or organization?  How well do you filter how you act or what you say?

4.  How well do you manage your relationships?  Do you know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage team conflict? How about your personal relationships? Do you recognize the need for reciprocity or crucial conversations in order to maintain their health?

These questions are a really powerful filter to access your personal EQ.

So why is this even important?

We’ve all seen incredibly intelligent people fail miserably at life and relationships; we are often confounded by this because it would appear that their genius would almost solidify their success in every area….but it doesn’t!  It’s really not the smartest people who are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life.  A high IQ might help getting into a quality college but it will be a high EQ that will determine how someone manages dorm life, exams, and friendships!

To strengthen your EQ there are 5 things we can all intentionally participate in:

1. reducing stress ( guarding reactions) in the moment in a variety of personal and professional settings.

2.  paying attention to our emotions and finding creative outlets in an effort to keep them from overwhelming us.

3.  staying connected relationally and emotionally with others; asking for sincere feedback.

4.  allowing ourselves to use our sense of humor and creativity when faced with challenging situations.

5.  seeking to make intentional efforts to resolve conflicts positively and with confidence. Agreeing to disagree, compromise, and active listening.

“Emotional competence is the single most important personal quality that each of us must develop and assess to experience a breakthrough.  Only through managing our emotions can we access our intellect and our technical competence. An emotionally competent person performs better under pressure.” 

–Dave Lennick, Executive VP, American Express Financial Advisers

“What really matters for success, character, happiness and life long achievements is a definite set of emotional skills – your EQ – not just purely cognitive abilities that are measured by conventional IQ tests.” 

–Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

In 2014~Let’s have the highest EQ in the room! 🙂

If you really knew me you would not like me……………..

How many of us have made mistakes in our lives?  How many of us have baggage that plagues us? How many of us have heard the enemy whisper “if they really knew you they would not like you”?  I have.   This kind of shame can keep us locked up; unable and unwilling to step into opportunities simply because we ask ourselves the question “why me?, I am not worthy!”.

images

Years ago I stood before the congregation of our large church where my husband was an Executive Pastor, I shared my story. Everyone has a story!  My story involved a history of a date rape and an abortion at 17 years old! Such a shock to so many that saw me, and my life as perfect; perhaps charmed.

After sharing my story I had over 75 women come to me privately and share that this was similar to their story and they felt shamed and broken! Oh, how the enemy loves to make us feel ruined, soiled, and without value!!  Here is the truth:

We have a God who is full of grace and mercy–God’s mercy is so much richer than the mercy we extend to one another. This is sad, but true!  All of us have regrets and areas of deep sadness. The truth is that our Savior is rich in love, mercy, and grace!

If this resonates with you. If you have challenges or have faced situations where your choices caused great harm; run to the giver of grace and forgiveness! He loves you more than you can ever know!

images

Here’s what God’s word says:

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Isaiah 43:25-26

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.  Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence.

Isaiah 1:18

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
Today, sit with Him–let Him love you and breath fresh life into you–today is your day. He loves you.