Posts Tagged With: Relationships

Reciprocal Healing

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Today I tackled my normal 

Intently viewing strangers 

Listening to sad and happy souls 

Sweet melodies of hearts 

Ever stretching impatient fingers  

Toward comfort, acceptance, gladness 

 

Probing a refracted image 

Peeling back layers of façade 

Unveiled tender, vulnerable, me 

In shades darkened by misery 

I studied who I am 

 

Strange, how poorly I can see 

When perusing the heart of me 

How clear an image is portrayed 

In stranger’s hearts displayed 

Until it comes to my own 

 

Again I flee the inner me 

Finding solace  

Blindness to the mirror 

Soothing  

Somebody else’s woes 

A balm 

Ignoring my own 

 

 

Strange, someway, I know not how 

Miracles of healing within  

The inner me, when only I see 

Others’ needs 

When warmly caring for thee 

Somehow, I too am made whole. 

 

 heal

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Categories: Christian Living, Faith, People, Poem, Poetry, Self Improvement, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Foundation of Communication

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The Foundation of Communication

Is there someone you always seem to disagree with? You could be right. And we all love to believe we are right…right? But often we are wrong, and it takes a very mature, confident and wise person to admit when they are wrong. But usually it’s not about who is right and who is wrong. It’s about the truth coming into our lives to provide clarity, lead us toward success, bring happiness, and to benefit those we love.

 

If you are only concerned with being the one who is always correct in their understanding, you will never be considered a wise person. It is towards the goal of being and remaining wise people that I have included the following information that I gleaned from professionals in various fields: Psychologists, Sociologists, Ministers of Christ, best selling Authors, Scholars and Great orators. What I present here may sound too rudimentary and basic, because it is foundational to good communications skills. And yet, the majority of our populace appears to be ignorant of these simple facts.

 

Some of my most profitable friendships have been cultivated from what began as disagreements. Often, after truly listening to, and understanding a person I had formerly disagreed with, I had to say, “I was wrong and you were right.” Wow! The respect those simple words garner is amazing. People respect you and trust you a whole lot more if they have heard you say those words. When we can acknowledge the times we are wrong, people will realize we are genuine—the real deal. I have made lifelong friends who now serve as wise counselors for me, and me for them, simply by humbling ourselves enough to improve our communication skills and begin to really hear, listen and comprehend, and even experience the feelings of the other guy.

When being good listeners we employ everything at our disposal: Eyes, ears, minds, and also our hearts.

We must learn to respectfully ask questions. Ask for clarification! Don’t simply guess what they meant by what they said, ask them. We could simply ask, “What do you mean by that?” This leads both parties to clear communication. The very same people I formerly disagreed with have now come to me for advice and for counselling. Whereas before, we seemed to always be at loggerheads.

But first I had to learn how to keep my flapper shut long enough to allow the discernment that God’s Spirit offers, to lead me. You don’t have to answer right away! Sometimes you might want to wait until the next day to answer. Many things require no answer, no rebuttal, and no response at all.

 

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” –Doug Larson

 

Whatever your occupation, you will become much more successful when you improve your communication skills. But we will never be good communicators until we learn how to listen and decipher what a person is really saying. All too often we only think we understand what is being spoken. One reason for this is that our minds tend to jump forward to what we believe they are saying, or are going to say, based on the first several words or the first few sentences. Multitudes of people either stop listening and/or interrupt the speaker before they’ve had a chance to lay a foundation for what they hope to relate. But the crux of what a person wants to communicate comes towards the END of their discourse—ALWAYS!

Usually people will automatically believe they disagree with what is said by certain people, because they have never really listened to them in the past. Instead of hearing the entire message and then mulling it over, they are forming a rebuttal while the speaker is still talking. They are convinced that the person is disagreeing with them. This reveals just how insecure they are with themselves. People fear being wrong, and they fear looking bad. Some folks are so insecure that they are shattered and feel devastated just because another person might know something they did not yet know, or the other guy had a better idea. Sadly, what people do in an attempt to avoid looking bad, actually has the opposite effect.

One of the ugliest blights upon the earth are people too arrogant to consider an idea that originated outside themselves. To the mature soul, memories of youthful arrogance are a source of stinging embarrassment.

 

I still love the following ancient little rhyme.

“A wise old owl sat in an oak. The more he saw the less he spoke. The less he spoke the more he heard. Now wasn’t that a wise old bird?”

 

Listening well is the first step in becoming a great communicator. It will help us not only in conversation, but it is also the cornerstone of learning to become a great public speaker. Listen and ask for clarification, understand, craft your answer well and then speak. It’s a simple formula that’s been around since before Plato and Socrates, and both of them knew and used this formula as they spoke to huge crowds, as well as in their writings.

 

“Everything in writing begins with language. Language begins with listening.” –Jeanette Winterson

Listening is done with more than just the ears, also employed are the eyes and especially the mind. In fact, good listening is actually PERCEPTION.

“If you make listening and observation your occupation, you will gain much more than you can by talk.” –Robert Baden-Powell

 

Notice how the way we feel towards a particular person or how we feel about any particular subject always throws a rusty wrench into the cogs of communicating. Our feelings should never enter into the equation of practicing good communication skills. Our feelings, if allowed, will stymie our understanding every time. If you’ve done much study of human behavior, you know how strong emotion and reason do not play well together. When communicating we want to allow intellect to rule over emotion. Powerful feelings can block a person’s access to higher reasoning and intellect which takes place in the frontal cortex of human brains.

 

“Never allow emotion to hijack what could have been a highly profitable conversation.”–SB

 

Good communication skills are a monolithic topic and there is much we could discuss. But these basics are an essential beginning point. Without them we would be dumber than a bucket full of hollow rocks. We would miss out on many blessings, friendships, and lose access to wisdom we could have made our own. That’s why it is my prayer that this little post will inspire folks to do some research, study, and learn how to become better listeners than we already are.

By the way, Jesus never has to worry about misunderstanding what another person says. He sees directly into every heart and He knows our motives and our every thought.

 

“Even before I have formed a word with my tongue, you, LORD, know it completely!” Psalm 139:4 

 

Blessings

 

Categories: Christian Living, Leadership, People, Self Improvement, Success, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Fear of Weakness

GraciePictured above is my 10 pound Morkie, “Gracie”. She has a very big, courageous & loving heart.

 

Asthenophobia is the fear of weakness, and it is a widespread psychological ailment which causes great harm to those who are affected by its false notions.

Before we proceed, I hope to assure each reader that this is an interim post. We will continue the series on the “Origin of the Bible.” But it is very lengthy, and so I’m offering other stuff (technical term?☺) in between the origin posts.

Wimpy Dogs

It took a few times to work it out, but eventually the realization struck that I was gaining discernment into some people’s psychological and emotional states by how they reacted to various types of dogs. There have been nearly a dozen instances. Like when a man showed disdain for a very small dog that was quivering. He so despised the poor little thing for its weakness, that it became evident something more was in play than simply a preference for more stalwart pets.  People possessing a character opposed to his, usually act in a caring manner—more inclined to protect the helpless little creature, even comfort it.

I supposed correctly that this man has a character flaw, and yet the root from which it thrives is where his psyche’ breaks down. He views weak areas in himself. Anytime he sees someone, even an animal that resembles what he believes to be inside himself—he wants to turn away, and if he cannot do so, he lashes out. He has a deep sense of inadequacy. Unable to love himself, he cannot love something that reminds him of his own weakness, ugliness or flaw. But this is on a subconscious level. The man has no idea that his dislike of things that appear weak stems from his low self-esteem.

There are millions of us out here that tend to automatically dislike such a man, and dismiss him from any future contact. But knowledge always changes our actions. Love changes our responses. God changes the way we interact with the world around us through the wisdom He teaches. Compassion is not only for the weak, but for all, even for those we think do not deserve it. Ah, I believe we’re now talking about mercy, which is grown from love.

Please don’t take this as some sort of formula to psychoanalyze a person. There are several reasons why someone may respond in a similar manner to a tiny dog that trembles at shadows. We have healthy young men who are still trying to convince themselves they are real men. Walking down the sidewalk with a cute, but wimpy little dog is just not masculine. At this stage of their growth they avoid anything that might be construed as feminine. Toy dogs are for sissies, is the mindset. For such a young fellow, under the right circumstances his thinking will be outgrown, unless there comes a fracture in his identity, and then he may become like the first man.

When we begin to understand the difficulties people face on the inside of themselves, we can better perceive what is needed for their hearts to heal. My own response to the same dog was the opposite of that man I spoke of. The furry little ball of cuteness that he hated so much, drew me right to it. I picked him up and spoke softly to him, stroking its downy soft fur. By the way, I believe myself to be excedingly masculine. Mine was similar to a paternal reaction to the dog, because it was afraid, and yes, I began to not like that man at all. But then, the Lord began to show me this stuff, and everything turned around. Instead of disliking the man I began to pity him more than I did the dog. The unfortunate guy was miserable. Some past trauma had robbed him of a deep need of the heart: the ability to like and love himself.

Every good counselor, psychologist or social worker can tell you, “You cannot love others until you can love yourself.” Yes, there’s a lesser type of love we can have if we do not like who we are (by the way, that’s our cue to change). But it’s far from the kind of love God wants to make us capable of employing. When we don’t like ourselves, in every single one of our relationships we will eventually come to a barrier standing in the path of loving as we should.

Consider for a moment Jesus’ words “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” We cannot love our neighbor if we don’t love ourselves. We’re not talking about egotism, or being prideful and arrogant. On the contrary, every soul was created by God, in His own image, and has tremendous value. We were created to love God and to love one another. When we don’t like who we are, we should go to God and ask Him to help us change. As we communicate with God we begin to understand how much He loves us, and that’s a huge boost to our sense of self-worth.

The world is filled with deluded people, not knowing their own worth, and the world perpetuates their fallacious thinking by putting them down ever further. Let’s not be a part of that cycle, creating injured souls. We are to be a part of God’s construction crew, building people up, rather than on the devil’s demolition squad, tearing them down. Be nice. Be loving and kind. Be the light of truth in this dark world where there’s already far too much hatred. It’s not easy sometimes, but that’s why we must also encourage one another as we work towards the time when hate shall be no more.

God Bless You!

With Eternity in View,

Sheldon

 

 

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Profitable Troubles

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One year at an outdoor revival held by our congregation a young couple came to the prayer tent where I was stationed. They found themselves in difficult circumstances and indicated they would like me to pray with them. Struggling financially, they were living in a rundown RV with no electricity. Their marital relationship was under a great strain, being battered about by hardships. In the book of Hosea God refers to life struggles like theirs as being in the valley of Achor, which means “trouble”.

“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.” Hosea 2:14-15

Revealing the tender compassion which drives God’s heart, the book of Hosea is a story of God’s boundless love for His children. It exemplifies the closeness He desires in our relationship with Him. After God allows us to suffer in the valley of troubles, we must respond in faith, repenting where needed and learning how to trust Him more completely. That’s when His work inside us begins to profoundly take shape, and His purposes are moved forward.

God is preparing each one of us for the final culmination of His plan, which is found in the 19 & 20th verses of the same chapter.

“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in loving-kindness and in compassion, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20 NAS)

 God loves us so much He wants to marry us! After experiencing His provision of peace and strength and comfort through the valleys of life’s difficulties, we are more prepared for the completion of our union with Him. On the other side of hardship and suffering, when we’ve grown to trust God’s love for us and yearn with every fiber of our being to please Him, He begins fitting us for our white bridal gown.

A year later in downtown Indianapolis I saw that same couple I had prayed with. Both have grown tremendously in their faith. They said, “We are more in love with each other now than ever before.” Then they added, “God is good.”

If you find yourself in the valley today, know that God is working in your life to draw you nearer to Him. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b

Prayer

Lord, I know you have a reason for everything you allow. Please give me strength and patience to endure what I must. Thank you for teaching me about your faithfulness and what is involved with trusting you. In your Son’s holy name, amen. 

Please note that the above image is not the same couple that is referred to in this post. They are simply good friends, “Bill & Bonnie” holding one of my devotional books. Blessings.

Categories: Christian Living, Growing in Faith, Romantic Love, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Love—It’s All In Your Head

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Part One: Love and the Human Psyche (By the Scientist in Me)

Part Two: Loving Loved Ones Who Are Hard to Love (By the Minister of Christ in Me)

 

Love & the Human Psyche

Neuro-Psychiatrists tell us the human brain is hardwired in a way that we crave intimate relationships—that we long for love. Yet often those relationships end so horribly in heartache. A bad relationship leaves our fragile psyches bruised, or even completely shattered. Once bitten by love, some fear a repeat of that emotional trauma so much that they close themselves off and never again open themselves up to love.

A young man attending college sees a beautiful woman in class, and immediately he is attracted to her. Several weeks pass, and he’s made a few heart-felt, yet feeble attempts to speak with her, but every time he sees her the attraction is intensified. Something has been happening within the neural network of his brain.

Love has a way of rewiring our neural network. We meet someone, and similar to a virus, they occupy and alter our synapses. This causes our brain to release chemicals that produce arousal, attraction, or obsession. That special person becomes an ever present distraction; we can’t seem to focus upon anything but them. But we are not simply thinking about them all the time. Our brain is building a model of that person—a simulation of who and what we believe them to be. Our mind is actually predicting what they think, or rather what we want them to think, and even how they feel. So let’s say we’ve begun a relation with them. It may go well for some time.

Then suddenly our illusion of that person meets who they really are. Our simulation of them and reality finally collide like two trains heading in opposing directions. That person had no chance whatsoever of living up to our expectations of them, because we had a false view of who they were. Our mind was in love with the depiction our brain created of who that person was, rather than the actual person. This brings up the all important question: Did we ever really love their true person, or were we simply in love with our perception of who they were?

 

Loving Loved Ones Who Are Hard To love

(Previously published in “Christian Focus Magazine” June-July issue 2013 pg.42)

 As Phillip sat across from me with his elbows on my desk, his face in his hands, the quaking voice he emitted dripped with disappointment and sorrow. He was adamant that his wife Maria had changed completely after they were married, saying that she was not at all what he had expected her to be. When I also spoke with Maria, she said almost exactly the same thing about Phillip. Then, counseling both together, we discovered that they each had held very unrealistic expectations of the other, as well as a false view of each other from the beginning.

If we do not love God first, and understand our desperate need for the grace He gives, then the people we love will never meet our expectations of them. We will expect conformity to an illusion of what the perfect candidate for that particular role or relationship looks like.

When we come to Christ and see ourselves with clarity in the light of His holiness, how utterly detestable our own sinfulness becomes to us! It is only when we see ourselves for who and what we truly are that we can know what unconditional love is, for God has sent His own Son to die for us while we were yet sinners, while we are still in that wretched condition. The question is then begged: Do I really love this person who is so far from my illusion of what they should be? Our answer lies in the question: Has God demanded that we conform to a pattern of perfection before He loves us, or after His act of grace and mercy, after He has proven His love? He loved us first, and then acted upon that love with grace.

Speaking of our old sinful nature, Paul writes in Gal.2:20 “I am crucified with Christ”. In dying to the old self, we crucify our illusion of who and what we ourselves are, and of what that loved one should be. The weakness of the flesh perpetrates and perpetuates these illusions in our mind. The Spirit of Truth, or Holy Spirit, reveals truth. Jesus Christ is the truth, (John 14:6), and ALL truth can be found through a relationship with Him.

 

Expect your expectations to change!

 

With our illusions shattered by the illuminating reality found in Christ, we can decide to love unconditionally. We must begin granting grace and mercy to our loved one. Suddenly, our expectations are pure. They have not been lowered, but are now reasonable, having grown out of an accurate knowledge of who we really are, and hence who they truly are. We are now empowered to lead them to the same truth in Jesus to make the changes they need to make. We certainly cannot judge them (we are or were in the same condition) and we can now truly love them, for our disillusionment—the breaking of our illusion, has given us the ability, the power to love them into change.

There are 3 steps toward our loved one becoming what we need in that relationship.

Know the truth found only in a relationship with Christ Jesus.

Love unconditionally as we have been loved by God. 

And grant them the same kind of grace we have been given.

“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” Romans 16:20

Phillip and Maria just had their second child. After fifteen years of happy marriage, they say their love for each other has now grown to a beautiful maturity, and life together is wonderful, thanks to Jesus Christ.

 

 

Categories: Christian Living, Romantic Love, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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