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Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

life chapter

Every season of life has it’s eb’s and flows. Every chapter is written with both beginnings and endings – joy and sorrow. New characters, dreams, and life lessons are introduced, as well as new hurts and grief. Maybe these are just the realities of growing pains, but no season or chapter is ever easy.

I look back and can see my different struggles and areas of growth through every season. College ignited questions of identity and faith; interestes and direction. After college surfaced the tension of anxiety and dream. Wide open spaces of creativity and curiousity led the charge. My late twenties and early thirties have brought about new dreams, locations, and career shifts. It has been in these last few chapters where I feel like I have fumbled around the most.

Every season carries the weight of real trials and challenges.

Every season carries with it current issues for that age bracket. The things that I struggle with in my early thirties are not the same as those issues that seemed hard in college. However,  I do believe that each chapter brings with it the challenge of identity and community.

College

College is easy to find somewhere to belong. People were always readily availableto interact with and cultivate lasting relationships. Post college begins the effort to find community. The abundance of people groups drastically diminish after college. So we find small groups, work friends, or maybe join a running group.

20/s 

The twenties begin the stage of “all your friends” starting to get engaged and married. You might even experience a time of long-term transition with moving to a new city, or experiencing the revolving door of friends moving away.

The questions of our twenties looks like, “Do I want to be married?” and “what do I want to do in life?” In this stage, we are still fumbling around trying to figure out who we are and where we fit.

30’s

My thirties have been a variation of my twenties. I am more comfortable with who I am. My dreams and career are taking on a much clearer form. But the questions change a bit in this chapter. The question of the thirties look more like, “why am I not married?” and “why is community so hard?”

Community is a challenge in every season, but the thirties bring with it a grey area of no place to land. We are the “in-betweeners” for church ministries, as in we are not college kids, or young adults (groups dominated by early 20’s folks.) We are the not-sure-where-you-fit group.

By this stage most friends, who got married in my 20’s stage, are now on their second or third kid. So I  experience an even more displaced and lonely feeling as a single person. Finding good community seems like the biggest challenge in this chapter of life. As a single person, how do I fit with my married friends? In a church community, where is the place I can land where there are other’s “like me?”

As a married person, I wonder if you struggle with trying to know how to relate to your single friends, or even friends with kids.

Every stage of life has it’s question marks and challenges.

What are YOUR  questions and challenges in YOUR season?

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Love is a word that seems to be so easily dismissed in my brain. Love is one of those convoluted words that seem to carry so many different levels of meaning. I hear love being tossed out all the time. We use it to describe things we like. We use love at the end of conversations and family gatherings. We also use love as a description word that translates into deep meaning.

Love runs deep in me

I would describe myself as someone who loves deeply. I value the word love very much. I do not toss that word out flippantly. I want to be a person who loves deeply. I want to show love to others in a way that they never knew was possible. Honestly, I love loving.

However, there resides a dark place in me that can’t seem to grasp reciprocated love. I dismiss love so quickly that it just ricochets off my guarded heart. As I find great joy in loving others, I see myself as unlovable. Some reasons because that has been the message told to me, and some my own self perception from life. When someone tells me that they love me the words seem to echo without a place to land inside of me.

Dismissing love serves two purposes in my life.

The first comes from the core of knowing pain and wounds that run deep in me. I have experienced grief from loss of relationships I valued greatly. In my efforts to guard against pain, feeling loved has little room to take root. To allow love to take root in me would mean risking pain. Some where along this road of grief I traded in my heart, desperate to know love, for safety.

The second purpose is an extension of the first. Experiencing deep loss, and relational wounds, has rocked my self-perception. In the midst of that pain, I believe in the lie that says, “I am not enough” and “I am not worth loving.” My skewed self-perception and relational wounds have told me that I only worth conditional love at best. Those lies have dictated many courses in my journey.

In the past couple of years, I have learned that the only way to dispel a lie is with truth. Truth has a louder voice than the lie. Truth is sustaining where as lies require me to anchor them. There is only one who has claimed to be “the way, the truth, and the life.

Truth tells me that I am loved. Truth states that we know love “because he first loved us.” Love laid down his whole life so that the vail of my own self-perception would be torn in two.

I am still in a place of wrestling through doubt that the word love applies to me. I still experience pain where that message seems true.

I have known glimpses of love. I say glimpses because I hold loosely to those moments. Fear still has its grip on me. Everyday I pray for perfect love to drive out all my fear. One day I will know in my heart, and not just my head, that I am worth love. Until then, “he is working on me.

How do you respond to love?

What risks come with love for you?

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Reflection is a powerful thing when you are willing to risk it.

Reflection carries with it a heavy weight and tension – it can sting with bittersweetness.

In one way, reflection is that hindsight that brings clarity into view. We can objectively see those decisions that could’ve been better made, or “aha” moments enabling understanding. Reflection can lead to new insights and dreams. It can also be a road map that determines new destinations in life seasons.

Reflection bears a tension. It is a two sided coin.

I feel the tension of reflection all the time. I am a feeling thinker. I feel my way through processing. I also think deeply about most things and situations. I like to understand every angle. Half of the time, reflection brings on that “ugh” feeling for me. I see more clearly the mess I am.

Reflection can illuminate the gaps in my life, as well as my imperfections. I often times see the ways I have failed in communication, friendship, responsibilities, and even possibilities. I hate that feeling. I hate realizing I dropped the ball on something. It is so hard looking back and seeing the ways I responded out of my fears and insecurities and caused hurt. AH!

Henri Nowen states that reflection can also “remind us of the gap between our willing and our doing, our desires and our performance, our calling and our achievements.

Reflection bears the weight of incompleteness.

When we risk looking back over chapters and seasons of our lives we can see dreams and desires. We’ve all made decisions to take certain paths in life. Looking back, for me, speaks of how far I still am from my dreams. Sometimes I leave reflection with more thoughts of regret and “if only…”

I struggle with the gap of what was and what is still yet to come. Incompleteness is hard for me – waiting is even harder. I battle with discouragement if we are being most honest.

Don’t get me wrong there is encouragement in reflecting on how far we have come. It’s life giving to see steps made. There is just a tension. It’s like that feeling of sitting in a boat that has cast off from one shore and still a long way from another.

At the end of reflection there is hope that bridges the gap between looking back and looking ahead. There is redemption for past failures and imperfections. There is hope for possibilities and new shores to land on.

Nowen also states that “reflection makes us realize that good comes out of imperfection, strength out of weakness, and blessing out of fragility.

As you reflect it’s okay to struggle with what you see. I still hope you risk to see. Reflecting is meant to be empowering, healing, and motivating.

What have you been reflecting about lately?

How do you struggle in the process?

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Whenever I stop on Jeopardy long enough to watch a round, I shake my head at the RE-diculous amount of information people know. There are some people out there who have a lot of knowledge stored up somewhere in them.

Knowledge is a valued characteristic in our society. We are attracted to smart people. We appreciate intellect as a virtue.

This has me thinking about what it means to really know something. Someone with great recall can seem knowledgeable, but what about understanding?

Would you rather have knowledge or understanding?

There is a big difference.

I am sure that we can all drum up something to say about most topics. We all have opinions. But there is a such a difference when listening to someone who really has an understanding of a subject. I could listen to someone who really “gets it” all day long.

With understanding comes meaning and value. Sure we can value knowledge, but there is just something that happens when information moves from the head to the heart.

All throughout the gospels it is clear those who knew about Jesus and those who really understood Jesus. The religious people of his day wanted Jesus to fit into a box of being someone they could explain.

Knowledge is rooted in knowing the facts about someone or something. I know a lot about people just by reading their blogs, bios, and “about me” pages, but this does NOT mean that I know them. Knowledge can be false advertising for intimacy. I would even go so far as to say that we can know a lot about a person through conversations, but it takes spending time with that person to really know them.

The ones who really knew Jeus were those who spent time with him. Mary Magdalene knew Jesus just by the sound of her name being spoke. That voice had meaning and value. There was an understanding that accompanied what she knew about Jesus.

I think I have come to the conclusion that I would rather have understanding over knowledge in my life. Understanding is aquired through intimacy. I have a rolodex of things that still need to move from my head to my heart – from knowledge to understanding. This is a life-long process. I want to be a person of passion, filled with knowledge that speaks with the conviction of meaning.

I want to be a person who speaks from the place of intimacy.

So I open the floor to you.

Talk to me about your thoughts on knowledge and understanding.

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Today, I had so much fun talking with a lot of you on Twitter. Such great discussion about personality types and what makes us tick.

I have LOVED catching glimpses of what drives and frustrates YOU! I am so fascinated by what other people’s Myer’s Briggs letters are. I crack up even more when people fight their own letters. Haha!

The Myer’s Briggs personality test is a great way to get to know how you are wired. It provides a window into what kind of relationships and work environments you would thrive in. I love that. I love helping people figure out how they are wired, and how to embrace their own natural bends.

Would love for you to take the test and see what glimpses you catch of yourself.!

http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

There are many combination so of personality types. Here is a great website that can explain what letters your results show.

http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/

(Scroll halfway down the page to see your letter cluster explanation.)

I am an ENFP to the core! I have learned so much about myself, as well as what work environments would be good for me to work in. It has also made a tremendous difference in how I perceive conflict in relationships.

Understanding yourself and others makes all the difference when it comes to extending grace and listening to the heart.

Do you feel like your letters reflect how you are wired accurately?

What are you letters?

Which personality type do you best relate with?

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I was driving in the car the other day and realized just how many blind spots I have. I try and angle all of my mirrors to help reflect some of them, but they are still there. Inevitably, I still have to turn my head whenever changing lanes.

Like a car, we all have blind spots. Some we see. Some we use coping mechanisms to help reflect those spots, but some we don’t.

We all like to think that we have our spots under control. We also like to think that our spots are known only to us.  Also like a car, passengers like to point out spots we don’t see.

When I studied communication and counseling, we often looked at a graph called Johari’s window. This is a four square graph that illustrates our known and unknown areas.

Johari’s Window illustrates that:

1)      There are things in our lives that are both known to us and to others. (Meaning both you and others are aware.)

2)      We have blind spots known only to others. (Things in our lives we don’t see, but others do.)

3)      We have things in our lives that are known only to us. (These are hidden things known only to you.)

4)      We also have things that are unknown to both us and to others.

I will be the first to admit that I hate not having a handle on all of my stuff. I hate when others see something (i.e. a fault, defense mechanism, response pattern, habit, or quirks) that I am unaware of. The deeper reason is that I am uncomfortable being out of control.

I am always fascinated by how we handle each other’s spots. Not everyone is open to hearing what other’s see in them. We are not always open to dealing with the spots we are aware of. How we communicate what we see and hear matters.

How I respond in conversation and situations is a glimpse for someone else to see into my spots. We are constantly communicating, both verbally and nonverbally, to each other what is going on in our hearts. These are all things known and unknown.

How are you handling the glimpses you get of another’s heart?

What do you do with the spots you see and hear in someone else?

What are you doing with those things only known to you?

Are you approachable when it comes to someone point out your unknown spots?

As much as we like to think we know everything about our own hearts, we don’t. I love that God created us to be a part of community for that reason. Community is one tool used to help us become the best version of ourselves we can be. How we communicate and love one another within this window matters.

Johari’s window applies to everyone. I just want to encourage you to take a look at what your window looks like, as well as how you are handling the window’s of other people.

Everyone responds, acts, and tells the stories they are for a reason. Listen and catch a glimpse of the heart.

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This afternoon, I had a sweet Starbucks time with one of my college kids I am mentoring. I love mentoring people in that season of life. They have so many question marks, and so many thoughts and dreams.

The early twenties are all about identity and individuation. People are trying to figure their passions, pursuits, dislikes, and direction.

Faith is also one of those topics being figured out during this time of life.

I asked her what her thoughts were on faith right now, and what faith looks like for her these days. She lingered in thought for a moment and answered with what was hard about it. She described how Jesus was a cultural thing to do where she is in school. There are lots of church go-er’s, but no one with a real different kind of life.

My friend also talked how it is really hard to sit down and just “be” with God. She grew up in a Christian home so knows the stories. God has become boring for her.

And why wouldn’t he be if Jesus is just a one dimensional character.

It is so hard to make the transition from seeing God as a bible character to one who is part of our daily lives; one who is alive and relational.

I asked my friend how she gets to know people. (I was not looking for the answer of spending time together.) I asked her what kinds of questions she asks people, and how did she get to know her closest friends.

Those things matter. How we get to know people matters. What we are drawn to matters.

How I get to know my friends is the same way I am going to get to know God.

For example, I love getting to know the heart stories of other people. I love knowing what has shaped them, what their passions, dreams, and motivations are. I love knowing how people handle conflict and life’s wounds.

Knowing those parts about people make them more 3D to me. They become more real when the pieces of their heart are seen.

God is the same way for me. I encouraged my college girl to try reading through a gospel looking for those things she loves about people and finding those things in Jesus.

Jesus has a story. He has motivations. Jesus has passions and things that made him mad. He has things that make him real and 3D. Just like my friend, we all have to find a way to make God real and relational – we have to find a way to make God 3D. He is alive and involved in our hearts.

When Jesus is just a character, there is no real meaning for his life in ours. He is real and wants to be a real intimate part of our lives.

How is God real and 3D for you?

 

 

 

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