Perpetual Fireworks…

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My wife and I attended a marriage workshop this past weekend. It was very good and was truly a “work shop”. We actually were given time and space to go face to face and share our hearts. We love this type of workshop/seminar for married couples and it is the type of thing we do for couples who engage with us in Marriage Mosaic, our marriage ministry.

The workshop title is;  The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work, based on research John Gottman and associates have been doing at the University of Washington over the last 40 years. John’s wife Julie, a licensed psychotherapist, has helped develop the research into 7 practical principles that couples can apply to their relationship.

They have found that at the core of all successful marriage is a committed friendship. One of the many nuggets that were reinforced for me in this workshop is the fact that friendship must be continually cultivated over the life of my marriage to Monique. The Gottman’s call this work, establishing and growing your “love map”. When relational stresses and hurts happen, if the foundation of friendship is deeply rooted ; it may get shaken but it doesn’t crumble. friendship image

Another great insight for me is knowing the difference between “perpetual” and “solvable” conflicts. This is a huge one! This blog title, “Perpetual Fireworks”, refers times when my emotions get triggered and I enter into what the Gottman’s call “flooding”. When this happens, a huge roadblock to communication is unconsciously erected in the sacred space between Monique and I.  Listening and positive problem solving is out the window.

Because of the nature of this conflict and its periodic reoccurrence, the Gottman has found that it is far better to “manage” this conflict than to try to resolve it. Managing the conflict doesn’t seek resolution, but is content to contain it, which preserves the friendship. Thus, I am learning to be more aware of the “perpetual fireworks” inside my heart and practice some skills to manage the “flooding”. Monique is helping me too. Interested in learning more? Stay tuned for some real “relational traction”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Volcanic reactions…

Recently I have come under some strong convictions about building relationships with others for the purpose of simply loving them well. I do think that this is the essence of discipleship. This might just be my opinion, but what I read in the New Testament seems to line up with my thinking. Alan Hirsch, disciple-maker and teacher, reinforces what I believe… see this link for more.

The other day in a meeting my thinking about the best way to build relationships with others was challenged, or so I thought, and I could feel my emotions begin to stir inside. I couldn’t identify the emotions as the “magma” inside my heart began to heat up.

A few more words from the person I was talking to, and more heat and pressure grew inside me. All of a sudden, I was fully engaged emotionally; voice got louder, face got redder and cognitive thought was out the window. I had to be right and be right with passion. See this short video clip from one of my favorite movies; Inside Out.

As the craziness of the verbal exchange continued to become unmanageable for me, I began feeling more and more uncomfortable and eventually backed off.  Then my shame slowly kicked in with thoughts like; “I am stupid, ridiculous, out of control, and so immature.” Another thought; “at your age you should’ve progressed to be able to get these emotions under control.”

I can’t stand feeling this way! Wanting to be free and live in the truth of how God sees me, I moved towards my friend who was in his office. I apologized and asked his forgiveness, as the whole escalating conversation was really not about him. This living in the “light”, began to lift the heaviness in my heart.

Now, 12 hours later, I am still processing what was going on in me. I am, what Pete Scazzero talks about in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, exploring beneath the iceberg. The movie, Inside Out, does a beautiful job of showing what happens to our hearts when we don’t go beneath our iceberg and use unhealthy ways to cope like; blaming, withdrawal, rationalization, justification, etc.

I really wanted to withdraw and pretend it never happened. Thankfully the Holy Spirit and trusting in my new identity, Christ in me, I moved forward in the way of repentance and forgiveness. Healing and freedom are two gifts I’m receiving now, thanks to my gracious God.

 

 

Atheist Professor, Holly Ordway, Becomes Christian.

I found this blogpost to be interesting in the context of relationship; relationship with God and with others. Dr. Ordway’s book will go on my list to read this summer. Check out the summary.

Dr. Holly Ordway has published a book titled Not God’s Type, telling her personal story. She begins “I had never in my life said a prayer, never been to a church service. Christmas meant presents a…

Source: Atheist Professor, Holly Ordway, Becomes Christian.

Mountains out of Mole Hills

Do you make “mountains out of mole hills?” I can sure fall into this trap easily. While mowing the lawn last week, I mowed right over the two mole hills that popped up in the grass. It seemed they came out of nowhere.

mole hillsThis same thing happens to me relationally in my key relationships; marriage, family and close friends. Does this happen to you? All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I lose perspective and I take the “mole hill” and build it into a mountain. Something is said or something happens and a “mole hill” pops up in me emotionally. I feel unsettled, uncertain and my equilibrium is upset. Instead of stepping back and exploring what’s beneath the iceberg of these emotions, I power up and continue building my mountain. Ugly!

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Now the mountain is filling the entire room. Imagine a mountain developing in your kitchen or your living room. Whoa! The mountain is way out of perspective for the incident or comment that created it. The immensity of it all spins everyone out of control.

 

How did I get here? I can’t shovel fast enough to displace the material that makes up the mountain, so I begin to justify my mountain building. Bad move! This move puts me deeper in a box where I craft my own reality. (Read: Leadership and Self-Deception by the Arbinger Institute). In the box I can’t relate to you from a healthy perspective because I see and view everyone from the lens of my box. There isn’t any relational traction here.

Let’s talk next time about getting “out of the box” and avoiding mountains in our relationships.

 

 

 

Incessant Quest

everest-movie-624x452Last weekend my wife and I rented the movie Everest to watch in the comfort of our own home. We knew we were getting ourselves into an adventure and journey in the quest to climb Everest, but I wasn’t prepared for the main theme God wanted to impress upon my heart in watching this movie.

The theme didn’t really reveal itself to me until well after the movie was over and then it came blasting into my head, heart and soul. It was the “incessant quest” for significance that humanity seeks in life.

Scott Fisher and Rob Hall, lead guides for the ill-fated Everest climb, had led teams of climbers in reaching the summit several times. Rob’s wife was expecting as he planned this climb in the spring of 1996. She pleaded with him to delay the trip until after the birth of their first child. The “incessant quest” had it’s grip on him. He had to summit one more time. You can rent the movie to learn about the outcome of this decision.

Dr. Kelly Flanagan, in his latest blogpost titled; The Thing We Are All Searching For (and where to find it), quotes actor Jim Carrey regarding the incessant quest; “I am two-time Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey. You know, when I go to sleep at night, I’m not just a guy going to sleep. I’m two-time Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey, going to get some well-needed shuteye. And when I dream, I don’t just dream any old dream. No, sir. I dream about being three-time Golden Globe winning actor Jim Carrey. Because then I would be enough. It would finally be true. And I could stop this terrible search for what I know ultimately won’t fulfill me.”

Wow! He nails it. The incessant quest for significance won’t fulfill us. Dr. Flanagan states that many of us eventually become aware that the quest is fruitless. He says;

It turns out, peace doesn’t happen when you find what you’re looking for; peace is what happens when you call off the terrible search for what you already have. 

Two questions that kill conversation

conversation killer
Have you ever begun a conversation with; How was your day? Or; What did you do today? Yikes, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used those questions to try and start a conversation with my wife, and especially with my kids. I’ve found over the years that those questions kill the conversation before it ever begins.

 

I usually get, in response to those questions, a one word answer something like: “fine”, “okay”, “horrible” or “nothing”. Then the body language that says to me, go away, I don’t want to talk to you, or don’t bother me right now.

Glennon Doyle Melton, in her recent blogpost titled; A Way to Have Conversations that Will Lead to Deeper Relationships, has discovered some questions that open the door for heartfelt communication and conversation. Her discoveries come at the expense of experiencing the many questions that kill conversations.

What have you experienced with questions that kill conversation? Try on some questions Glennon suggests in her blogpost…life giving stuff there.

 

When Jesus Becomes a Fill-in-the-Blank

Something to think about here…connecting the church journey with relational traction.

Holy Soup

People describe the Christian faith as a “personal relationship with Jesus.” But in the church, how have we gone about encouraging and developing that relationship with Christ? Curiously, church services, classes and programs rarely pursue that relationship like, well, like a real relationship.

It’s not for lack of good intentions. At some point, years ago, church leaders somehow got the idea that the church is in the information business. The God information business. They knew a lot of good information about God, and they felt compelled to share that good information with other people. So, they looked around and asked themselves, “How do information-keepers disseminate information?” Well, for mathematics, literature, history, and other academic subjects, people set up classrooms and have “school.” The teacher with all the information stands in front, lectures, and recites information. Pupils sit quietly and passively while the teacher goes through his or her lesson plan. Seeing…

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