What Was I Thinking?

 

Do you ever have to change your thinking about something because new information about it causes you to reconsider? This kind of thing happens to me often.

Recently, I contacted a yard treatment company for an additional application for my yard. The price for the work seemed much higher than the quote I was given a few weeks earlier. I texted them back and told them the original quote on the work was $70.00, not the $100.00 they quoted. Let’s stop right here for a moment and see how the new information affected me. How do you respond when the information you receive is counter to what you have been thinking is correct?

Trustworthiness is the first thing I look for in a company. Some bad experiences have caused my unconscious thinking to be a bit skeptical until I believe I can trust what I am told by the company. Thus far, the work by this group had been very acceptable, but this new quote raised a suspicion that I might be getting ‘bamboozled.”

Then, I did something I should have done before responding to the quote. I went to my notes on our initial conversation to verify that I was correct. What I discovered was that I had conflated different parts of our discussion. My thinking was wrong and I acted on wrong thinking. There it was in my notes; the cost for the application was $120.00, not the $100.00 they quoted.  

What did they think about me? Did they think I was trying to get a better price? A cheap person trying to cheat them?  Well, I wrote a quick text apologizing for my misunderstanding and told them I would be getting back to them concerning the work.         

You probably have stories of how you were on one side of a situation where you or the other person were acting from wrong information. How did the issue get resolved? Or, did it ever get resolved? How did your feelings change once you got better information?

What am I getting at with this story? I want you to consider how the truth underlying my simple story can have profound effects on the most important relationships in your life. The truth is: your thinking will determine the way you act toward God, your spouse, your children, etc.. Actions follow thinking. I will attempt to share more specifics about this in the weeks ahead. In the meantime, consider how this idea is working in different areas of your life.

Since the way we think is so crucial in how we act, let me offer a few pieces of advice for all of us.

  1. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. James 1:19.
  2. Don’t jump to conclusions.
  3. Consider the possibility you don’t have all the facts.
  4. 4.Hold yourself accountable for how you think and how you act.

Boundaries: The Answer to Many of Our Problems

A quarter of a century ago Henry Cloud and John Townsend published a book entitled Boundaries. As I have been perusing its pages lately it has dawned on me that this book holds the secret to solving many of life’s problems. You name it: sexual abuse, theft, adultery, lying, and all the big and little sins and crimes human beings commit could be resolved if people would just observe proper boundaries. Does that sound too simple?

Think about it. That’s what Jesus’ statement in Matthew 24 concerning loving God, self and others really implies. Proper respect for God, his boundaries and those he places on us, and the boundaries we need to develop within us would eliminate the behaviors which hurt us and others. 

There is just one problem with this solution. There must be a radical change of heart, a conversion of thinking and acting which changes our self-centeredness to acts of genuine love for God, our self and others. Such a change is possible if we are willing to give up our claim to be God and ask the true God to save us from our self destruction and accept his gift of salvation provided in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

God has determined how he will handle the issue of our sinfulness. We don’t get to make that decision, it is a matter of boundaries. Either we accept his love and do it his way or we don’t do it at all. And, he will not cross our boundary to force us to choose him. Now, that is real love.

Whose Dream Is It?

What dream or expectations do you have for your kid? Caution. You are probably well-meaning and only want the best for your child but be sure you know if you are imposing your dream on your child. When you put you child in a position to repeat your accomplishments or to accomplish something you did not you may be using him for your own end. This is unhealthy love. Please allow me to share with you a very common way in which this can happen.

Healthy love does not attempt to fulfill your dream through your child. It is easy to understand how a parent might unconsciously try to live his life through his child. Most parents want the best for their child. Many want their children to have life as good as or better than they did growing up. They want them to have opportunities for education and success that they may have struggled for. The bottom line is they often want life to be easy for their child.

There is nothing wrong with wanting good things and success for your child. But, you may need to think hard about your definition of success and what is involved in accomplishing it. Parents tend to define success according to our own struggles and experiences. This can be a real trap as we think about dreams for our child. This can set us up to try to live out our dreams, accomplish things we didn’t do, and build a name for our self through our child.

Here are some reminders which may help you avoid trying to fulfill your dreams through your child.

First, true and lasting success is found only in our relationships with God, our self and others ( Matthew 22:34-40).Does this biblical concept guide your understanding of real success?

Second, your child is a gift to you. He is not your property or an instrument you can use to fulfill your dreams or make up for your disappointments in life. He belongs to God and to himself.

Third, God has a plan for your child and has chosen you as his parent to help him become all God intended him to be.

Many children grow old striving to fix that deficit in their parent’s life but never receive the sense of approval and acceptance they so desperately seek. A child needs acceptance and the right to be himself and pursue his own dreams rather than to feel obligated to fix the disappointments or fulfill dreams of his parent. To attempt to live for a parent is an emotional dead-end street.

Success or Failure

How does your child handle success or failure?  Is there any connection to how you handle success or failure?

Your child’s view of his performance in school, sports, music, relationships and various other pursuits affects the way he sees himself. Obviously, if your child is able to have some level of accomplishment in these areas he gains confidence and, therefore, tends to feel good about himself. Over time the ability to accomplish may lead to venturing out into more challenging pursuits. All children like to accomplish and the feelings of pride and confidence that come with it.

You can greatly aid your child in this area by involving him or her in helping around the house. Your child wants to feel big and able to do important things. Start early to teach them to be a “helper.” Teach them to fold clothes, work in the yard, load the dishwasher and do various other tasks. Second, choose tasks they are capable of doing and congratulate them when they accomplish their work.

As you involve your child in helpful activities around the house you are doing several important things in addition to helping your child’s sense of himself. You are preparing him to learn to work. You are also demonstrating that families can and need to share in the work of the family. And, you are also preparing your child for the time he will become independent of you.

Defeat is difficult for all of us to accept. However,an occasional defeat can be a good thing if handled correctly. But, I’m not concerned here with the occasional loss of a game or getting a grade in school that is less than desirable. What should concern us as parents is a pattern of defeat which discourages our child to the point they feel hopeless. Your child can play on a team that loses every game but not have a defeated attitude about life. Why? Because other aspects of his life where he feels successful and secure can counterbalance occasional losses.

But, how do we create a balance which helps our child gain confidence without becoming prideful? Emphasize the the need to be grateful and recognize God as the source of our gifts and accomplishments. This will guard against inordinate pride and the sense that our worth is based on what we can do.

The Power of “I’m Sorry”

 Do you ever say “I’m sorry” to your child?

Let’s face it, we aren’t going to be perfect parents. That means we make mistakes; do and say things we shouldn’t say and do to our kids. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to be the best parent we can be because our child needs and deserves our best effort. 

One important fact to keep in mind is that parenting is “on-the-job-training.” If you learn from your mistakes you should get better at it with more experience. Interesting, isn’t it? Your child is learning how to grow up while you are learning how to be a good parent.

But what do we do when we “lose it” with our child? How do we begin to correct things with our child, when we overreact or fail to act when we should do so? There is a one-word answer for this question: APOLOGIZE. That’s right, admit you didn’t handle the situation well and tell your child you are sorry for the way you acted toward him.

But you protest, “What if my child was doing something wrong?” I agree that your child’s wrong behavior needs to be corrected. But, maybe yours does also. Being the parent doesn’t mean you are immune from mistakes that need correction. So, when you mishandle a situation with your child, correct yourself and apologize for your bad behavior. Take your own medicine and attempt to not repeat the behavior for which you had to apologize.

Does apologizing diminish your authority with your child? Not at all. Apologizing establishes a sense of fairness in which your child comes to understand you want the best for him. Learning to say “I’m sorry” also means you will hold your self accountable for your actions. This helps develop a sense of trust that you will act in his best interest.

Perhaps, most importantly, your ability to “own your stuff” by apologizing will allow your child not to have to internalize your problems. This means he can develop emotional patterns that are healthy and not be controlled by behaviors that are reactions to things you need to resolve.

Own Your Stuff

One of the greatest challenges of human relationships is to keep our personal stuff from creating unnecessary issues. In other words, we need to learn to own our stuff. For example, if you are person who always needs to be in charge, you can make others uncomfortable with your need to control or have things your way.

Refusing to recognize and deal with our “stuff”  may cause others to have little to do with us. However, our children cannot easily avoid us and may choose unhealthy behaviors to deal with our stuff.

Children often adapt unhealthy reactions to a parent’s angry tirades, abuse, anxiety or any number of other issues. One example of this is the child who becomes a “pleaser.”  This child doesn’t dare do or say anything that might create discomfort for someone even if he/she has been highly offended by their actions.

How does a child come to be this way? Most likely they learned early to stuff her feelings out of fear of setting off a parent’s explosive temper. Their “pleaser” ways may protect them from the parent’s anger but can have a big downside. They may come to believe they can’t have strong negative feelings. So, feelings are stuffed or the person can become passive aggressive.  Certainly, they can’t take the risk of expressing their feelings directly and openly. Continuing on this path of stuffing their anger may lead to avoiding all kinds of conflicts and develop very shallow relationships in life.

What do you think could happen if an angry parent becomes able to own their stuff? It would mean they could learn to apologize and the child wouldn’t have had to internalize the parent’s stuff. It would mean the child could grow up with a more balanced emotional life. 

Is there some emotional baggage you need to own? What, if any, unresolved anger or insecurity do you need to address so your kid won’t have to deal with it? If you don’t own it, it is quite likely your child, and perhaps others, will have to deal with it.

Parenting Character

Successful parenting starts with you, the parent. Your character, who you are deep inside determines what you value most and how you will live. Character also determines the kind of parent you will be.

So, who are you? What values are at the core of your being? Are you kind and gentle? Selfish, arrogant or prideful? Are you a know-it-all or are you open to learning new ways of thinking and doing things? Most importantly, does your character resemble God’s view of who he is capable of making you?

God knows each of us just as we are. He knows our secrets, strengths and weaknesses. Thankfully, He also knows our potential and wants us to continually grow toward being that person. Like a loving parent, He hopes for and dreams of the fulfillment of our greatest potential.

What is God’s view of the potential you? He sees you as becoming more and more changed into the character of Jesus, his son. Paul captures this great vision of us in Romans 8:29 ” For those God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son ….”(NIV).

In the larger passage from which this statement comes, God promises to work in every circumstance in our life to promote this growth of Christ-like character in us. He is able to use all the difficulties, pain and disappointments to shape our character. Our character, formed around faith in Christ, is his greatest concern for us.

Where do you start with this change of character which will gradually transform you and the way you parent? You begin with the surrender of your life to follow Jesus as Lord and Savior. If you haven’t already made this decision, I encourage you to begin this wonderful journey of forgiveness and grace right now.

Our Family and What’s Going on Today

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Are we coming apart as a society? What, if anything, does the shooting in Las Vegas say about the reality of evil? What role does the family play in the development of a stable society? Why does trust or the lack of it affect our society?  

The Trust Factor is critically important in life. There’s a lot in the news nowadays about trust, or the lack of it, when it comes to our government leaders. Folks all over America are doubtful of the motives and capability of many of those we have elected to serve us. We have a real ”crisis of confidence” in our country and there doesn’t seem to be much prospect of it getting better. How did we come to this place and how can it be fixed? Let’s learn to built trust in our families and with each other by what we say and how we treat each other. 

TRUST is a very important ingredient in life. It is present in all healthy relationships; marriage, friendship, business, parent/child, government and between leaders in the international community. Trust is foundational to the orderly and productive functioning of life. Without it we live in uncertainty, doubtful of the word or actions of the other person or country. President Reagan said, concerning agreements with other countries, that we should “trust but verify.” There is much wisdom in that idea; trust that the other person (country) will keep their word but understand that trustworthiness is proven by action consistent with one’s promise or agreement.

I believe the family is the basic unit of our society. As the family goes, so goes the world. Families produce children and children grow up to serve many different functions in our world. Some become congress people, some senators, some become Supreme Court judges and a few have the honor of becoming President of the United States.  

Everyone comes from a family of some type. But every family has the responsibility to attempt to instill the character values which make a person trustworthy. Character matters and there is no place where it matters more than in your family.

As for me, I will continue to live as a follower of the Light of the World and light my little candle in the terrible darkness. What about you? 

 

 

Truth and Trust

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An important factor in building trust in your marriage or other relationships is being truthful about ordinary, everyday things in life.

Mary Ann asks John, “Did you make the bank deposit today?” John hesitates for a moment but responds from the other room in an irritable tone,”Yes, Mary Ann, I made the deposit.” Opening the site to their bank account he negotiates the on-line transaction.

Why did John choose to lie instead of saying something like, “No, but thanks for reminding me, I’ll do that right now?” There are various reasons he could give for his course of action: “She’s always nagging me about something.” or “”I can never do anything to please her.” or “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.”

While this kind of incident may seem to be unimportant , it reflects a deeper issue which can ultimately destroy the trust in a relationship. What is the “root cause” of John’s lying about such a simple thing? One part of the deeper issue may be John’s unwillingness to face Mary Ann with his mistakes and correct them. Without blaming Mary Ann, he needs to find the issue within himself that seems to make it easier to lie than to tell the truth. So far as Mary Ann’s part in this problem is concerned, she may need to look at ways in which she somehow makes facing his shortcomings more difficult for John.

If we are not careful about these little things and correct our error our spouse and others will eventually discover our secret lies. When we are “found out” trust in the relationship will be damaged and that person may begin to wonder if there are other things, bigger things, we are not truthful about. Remember, the behaviors we repeat can become habits. Our habits determine our character and our character determines our destiny. 

The most important issue in the trust factor is your character. To build trust with others you must hold yourself accountable to tell the truth in little things as well as the big things.

 

Do You Really Want to Build Trust?

Do you  really want to build trust in your marriage? If so, you need to see how things you do or do not do everyday affect your spouse’s ability to trust you.

Marriage has multiple demands that go beyond maintaining and growing the relationship with your spouse. Work, child rearing, financial management, and such things as maintaining where you live play a part in how trust is built or destroyed in your marriage. With effort a deficit of trust in any of these areas can be overcome in time. However, an unwillingness to address trust issues will lead to a growing distrust and possible destruction of your marriage.

The real issue in making your marriage work well is CHARACTER. By this I mean that people of good character really want to mature and do those things that are healthy for their marriage. They will make mistakes but will also admit them and attempt to correct them. You will not need to try to change a person with good character because they will want to change for the sake of the marriage. So, it all comes down to a couple of things: heart and head.

The “heart” part has to do with will or intention. “In my heart, do I really want to do the right thing?”This question gets at the essence of the issue. If the heart is wrong or selfish then only a deep personal change such as conversion can change this.

The “head” part has to do with knowledge or understanding. A person can have a good heart or intentions but lack knowledge. For example, you may want to live within your means but are challenged when it comes to knowing how to make a budget. This principle applies in many areas of marriage and family life. Trust grows when each of you shows yourself willing to learn new skills which are important to the overall management of family concerns. Likewise, trust in these areas deteriorates when such issues are not addressed.