Month: July 2015

The Not-So-Obvious Lesson Christians Need to Learn from Bill Cosby

Who didn’t watch the Huxtables from my era? I’m not sure that I ever missed a show! My parents would even let me stay up late for Bill Cosby’s stand up comedy; we loved his take on humor, family values, and education. And Jell-O Pudding Pops, I mean c’mon, the best! So to find out a childhood hero of mine had such a two-faced lifestyle is more than heartbreaking, even decades later.

I won’t sentence Bill, I’m not the court of law and he is still under questioning. But it’s an out-in-the-open fact now that he had a secret life, (more…)

Change This Phrase and It Will Change Your Family

“It’s not my fault! It’s not my fault!” My son wailed as the water poured out over the edge of the toilet, with all of it’s disgusting glory onto the tile bathroom floor. The cesspool oozed its way towards the door and worked itself into the unsuspecting yarn of our hallway shag carpeting.

This was a problem.

I darted upstairs skipping two steps at a time. Noticed the mess and the enormous ball of toilet paper clogging the toilet. We’ve had talks about how much toilet paper to use but they didn’t register. (It still surprises me how many simple life conversations I actually need to have as a parent; “do not put your bare feet on your dinner plate on the table, do not play with bugs on the patio then come in for a snack without washing your hands”…and so on).

I want to tell you that I handled myself well: a fountain of grace and understanding, a gentle caring soul in the midst of crisis.

That didn’t happen. Rewind through the prior 45 minutes. I wanted to getaway with the family for a nice afternoon, instead I had been fixing the sink that was falling away from the countertop because of a faulty installation. Before that I went to the home improvement store, hit every red light on the way. The service clerk was entirely rude and unhelpful.

I had asked my kids to do their morning chores so we could have some wonderful Saturday family time. They didn’t. The kitchen was a mess. I tripped over their stuff as I bounded up the stairs. While trying to stop the toilet attack I slammed my finger in the door jam, I discovered the toilet water filling mechanism was broken and wouldn’t shutoff, all of this as I sloshed through the gunk on the floor.

Without thinking, I let out a very flustered growl and a few other words, like a lion woken too early by unruly cubs. And that’s when my son ran away screeching, “it’s not my fault, it’s not my fault.”   I sternly attempted to explain why it was indisputably his fault. My wife was justifiably dismayed with my reaction.

We faced a difficult emotional recovery from that point. I knew it was his fault, about the toilet paper at least. But looking back, big deal, right? So he used too much toilet paper for the 14th time. It’s not worth setting the family’s soul on defense for a day that was supposed to be filled with heart-warming connections.

And that’s when it hit me. It’s my fault actually: the culture of my home right now was my fault. Circumstances flooded in, but I allowed, I created the tension, by my reaction.

In his brilliant book Boundaries for Leaders, Henry Cloud points out that we get what we create or what we allow.

On this day that I wanted peace and connection and joy, I was getting tension and distance, and angst. I’m continuing to learn, we can’t control the circumstances, but we can control our reaction.

When it comes to our family and our close relationships we need to remember that we are getting what we create or what we allow. The emotional tone, the relational setting is largely established by our action, reaction, or inaction. If we spend our energy pointing out why it’s everyone else’s fault, everyone loses.

If we spend our energy asking “how is part of this my fault” we can own what we need to own and make some real changes.

We did end up sorting out our mess and it started by me apologizing to my wife and my son for my reaction. It opened up the door to a relatively painless cleanup of all the mess in our house. 

Will you change the phrase, “it’s not my fault” to “it is my fault?” Identify, own, and speak the issue you participated in creating or allowing. It will change your family and your friendships.

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Not Feeling Heard by Someone? 5 Essentials to Transform Your Situation.

“Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” David Augsburger

I have wrestled with that truth by David Augsburger for a decade and landed firmly, believing and attempting to live by that listening mantra. I want to hear others and show them tangible love. I want to receive the same treatment from others. Yet, in family, at work, among friends, it’s the times we feel we are not heard that cause the most pain and lead to potential relational breakdown.

Here are 5 essentials to remember when you are being triggered by not being heard in order to avoid the relational rift.

1. You are probably right. If you are really wondering, chances are you are probably right; you aren’t fully being heard. When someone hears you with sincerity, you will know it, plain and simple. They will make sure you know it. So grab on to the reality and feel justified about the fact that you are probably right, you aren’t being fully heard.

2. There is a reason that has absolutely nothing to do with you. It could be that your boss has a stomachache or your spouse is overly tired. It could be that person just walked out of a grueling series of life battles or a something you said triggered an unresolved issue from another situation. It could just be that person never developed great interpersonal skills. Don’t jump to judgment about yourself, your idea, your relationship with that person in a way that will twist your ability to keep trying. There is an explanation beneath the surface that will help to release the tension you are feeling. Seek to understand the context you aren’t aware of.

3. There is a reason that has something to do with you. I know I’m contradicting my previous point, however, not being heard is always a both and. You too are bringing something to the table or you have not brought something to the table that is contributing to the lack of receptiveness towards you. Hard to hear, but always true. Ask the question, “how am I contributing to the missed communication and lack of receptivity? How am I acting or not acting, how have I been treating the other person, how have I been avoiding or giving up or pretending or withdrawing in a way that helps pave the path towards breakdown?” The best way to be heard, is to keep being and becoming a person others want to hear. Dig in deep and identify what’s in you and what you can own first.

4. Time and timing. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. Wrong timing generates hollow hearing. Rethink when you’ve approached someone. Can you retry with a gentle request when there is less swirl? This seems basic, but, hit save to drafts instead of sending the email. Ask someone for 5 or 10 minutes when it works for them (and give them the reason why you want to talk – everyone detests the “please call me for an important conversation” with no reason given). Maybe what you are trying to get across now does require more work, more time, more credibility, before arriving at the right timing. Don’t force wrong timing.

5. Maybe you think you need to be heard more than you really do. Don’t tune my out yet. We all have a deep need to be heard, really, really heard. We deserve to be heard, what David Augsburger wrote is true. However, people will never fully meet that need. Even the best listeners, the most caring spouses, and the most interpersonally savvy boss or colleague, won’t fill the deeper issue behind the issue that is often present in our frustration. To approach people in a healthy way that creates connection, we need to first be heard and know that our loving God hears us.

Psalm 18:6 In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.

Psalm 66:19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.

Psalm 116:1 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;

Start by filling your tank with moments of being heard, deeply heard by God. You will approach someone who isn’t hearing you with less desperation, reduced anger, a softened heart, and a centered spirit. When we realize God already hears us, our need from others isn’t quite as strong as we thought it was. Go to God and let Him hear you will always be the healthiest first step in repairing broken communication with others.

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How to Rid Your Heart of Resentment

My father passed away from Parkinsons just a few months before this writing. That was tough. Still is. One striking memory I have from his final moments, was this sense there was nothing left unsaid, no burden or conflict remained between us, I carried no grudge or resentment towards him nor he towards me.

We had a clean relationship into the end. We blessed each other. Some time earlier he said “Craig I’m so proud of you and love you so much” and I essentially said the same back to him and said “I’m so grateful you are my dad.” I meant it. That is the special kind goodbye I hope every single person has the chance to experience, because I know it’s rare.

But it wasn’t always this way. For most of my teenaged and young adult years and adult years, we had tension, and strain, and issue after issue built up in our relationship. He was an imperfect dad and I was surprisingly an imperfect son. We both hurt each other. I carried some of those grudges forward for many years, carving a chasm of distance between the two of us.

My story is not uncommon. You have hurts from your family. Even the best Christian parents and siblings are still sinful, still broken, still imperfect, and still going to leave a mark worthy of at least a few sessions of therapy for every last one of us.

We need to choose, what will we do with the wounds? Pretending they aren’t there is not a strategy. Not only will resentments impact our relationship with our family, they will forever change the potential of who we can become ourselves in Christ. If I hold a grudge, than I am as Anne Lamont refers to eating rat poison and thinking its going to kill the rat. If I retain resentment, I’m literally contaminating the water supply of my own life.

The only way forward is forgiveness. Col. 3:13 “Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Unfortunately, many people mistakenly think forgiveness requires two people and then wait around until the relationship is ready, which it may never be. Forgiveness only requires one person. You. Me. So HOW do you, how do I, forgive a wound to avoid a lifetime of heart contamination?

  1. Grieve.  You must feel the full weight of what was lost, what was taken, what was wounded, otherwise forgiveness will be too shallow, won’t be thorough all the way to the roots.
  2. Release. Once grieved, release your sense of entitlement to what was lost. Let go of the right to be vindicated, to be heard, to receive either an apology or an overture towards repair.  And certainly let go of the right to get revenge. Those are not our rights we must release those expectations.
  3. Be filled. Let God and God alone fill the void that was left. That person in your family can’t fill it. And you no longer need them to so let GOD be your fulfillment.
  4. If possible, relational reconciliation will follow, but not always.

I walked through these steps on my own for years, and the moments I was able to share with my dad, the blessings exchanged on his deathbed were the fruit of the cleansing and healing power of forgiveness and release. You need to know the pain of entering the process of forgiveness was entirely worth it.

My hope and my prayer for you is that you will choose, with any grudge with any resentment for your own sake, to do the hard work of forgiveness and find fulfillment in Christ. And who knows it may just lead to redeeming some relationships in your life.

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