Friday, August 31, 2018

Watch Your Mouth

So last week I started talking about some thoughts I had about words. I wasn't really done, but I didn't want to make the post too long. So I'm going to put more thoughts here.

Photo credit: Maggie-A-Day

A LOT of people in world speak death! They say nice words in a tone that isn't nice and you know those words are really death. Sometimes they use death words with a death tone. Sometimes they say death words with a nice tone and you aren't sure, but you think those words are death. They use words on the internet with no tone and maybe those are death too. It is really depressing and disheartening to be around people that so often speak death. It is so easy for a few misplaced words to make you feel less than or to set off your anxiety or a thousand other rotten negative feelings that you don't really want.

And maybe it is you using some of those death words and death tones. Let's be honest at times it is all of us. We all need to be more conscious of our words and how we use them. A few thoughts about how to do that.

Acknowledge and Affirm - Acknowledge what they said. Let them know that you heard what they had to say. By doing this, you are valuing their thoughts and feelings. You are valuing their humanity. Even if you disagree with them, acknowledge that they feel that way. Affirm the parts you can affirm. Like with my 4 year old. I need to acknowledge what she said and feels even if she is yelling it. I get her on to my lap and affirm what it can. "It is hard to be patient." "It is hard to grow up." "It is okay to be sad." "It is okay to be angry."
Then say the part that you need to disagree about. "You can't yell." "You can't hit." They are much more likely to listen to you because you listened to them first. As adults, we must do this with each other. We can not just do this with kids and not do this with each other. When you really want to let loose those death words or death tones, take deep breath. Then put aside yourself and try to listen to them. Try to see where they are coming from. Be aware of what else you have said and how that could make them feel. That leads me to my second thought.

Try to see both sides of the story. You might be angry and frustrated. You might have a good reason to be angry and frustrated. But try to see things from their perspective. Maybe they are angry and frustrated as well. Maybe they are afraid. If you can sympathize with their situation and what they might be feeling, you are less likely to use death words or death tones. If you have to confront them about something, then you can use a reasoning that affirms them and encourages them. You can still confront them, but you will confront them in a way that uses life words and life tones.
For instance if someone isn't living up to their end of a bargain. You are frustrated, but you also know they have a sick family member or extra work at their job, etc. You can start with "You aren't doing enough." OR you could start with "You have a lot going on right now." Then present the situation in a way that acknowledges their side and affirms what they have been doing. They will be ready to talk to you reasonably about the solution. They will listen to your concerns and issues because you saw their issue first.

So try to speak life more often. (And sometimes relationships are just toxic and it is best not to speak at all. However, that is a different story for another day. )

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Words Have Power

Photo Credit: Tom Magliery

The last few weeks I have had a particular verse come to me over and over again in multiple different situations. When that happens, I assume it is something important and I should pay attention to it. The verse is Proverbs 18:21. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

So what does that mean? Lots of things! I will mention a few of them.

1. Your tongue has power! The words you say and the way you say them have power. You can make things better by speaking life. Or you can make them worse by speaking death. Life and death are strong words, but your tongue is a strong instrument. James 3 talks about that.

2. You love your tongue. You may not realize it though. We all love our tongue because of what we can do with it. You tell people that you love them and they smile. You feel better because they feel better. Other times you are angry and your words aren't nice. Your tone is mean. Whoever you fired your words at flinches away from them. Again you feel better because you got that negative out at the person who 'caused' it. There are countless variations to those two options, but most of the time it will break down to one of those two options.

3. There is fruit that grows from the power of your tongue. If you constantly use your tongue for death, the death will live inside of you and infect your relationships. The fruit from your tongue will be death. If you constantly use your tongue for life, life will live inside of you and bloom in your relationships.

I have more to say about this, but I think I will leave this here for now. Next week I will talk about the rest. For now, take some time and see how you use your tongue. Do you speak life or death? What do you really want to use it for?

Friday, August 17, 2018

Waiting for Home

Photo Credit: velo_city

This week has been a rough one. We are a couple weeks away from our move in day and it doesn't look like we will hit that date. The rebuilders haven't used the word delay, but this is week 3 of hoping the inspection happens. So it seems that we won't be back home until later. I have tried really, really hard to not to be depressed about it. I mean how many times have we seen a delay on HGTV? Mentally I knew this would happen, but I hadn't seen it yet. So we had started thinking that really is our moving home date.

This week I have tried multiple ways to reorient my expectations, but it is hard. As good as our displacement has gone, it is still not home. We have been waiting to sleep in our own beds again. We have been waiting to spend time in our own bedrooms and watch TV in our own living room. We have been waiting to cook in our own kitchen and eat in our own dining room. Waiting is hard. Waiting is tiring.

Just earlier tonight, I was thinking about how I have been focusing on my physical home. But this is kinda like my spiritual home as well. Waiting for Heaven is hard. Waiting for Heaven is tiring. This world is a hard place in which we can never really get comfortable. We get tired of hearing all the negativity. We dream of a time when things are truly fair and love really is the greatest. We dream of a place where we don't have to fight so hard all the time.

So maybe while I am waiting impatiently to be back in my physical home, I can think a little more of my spiritual home. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

I’m Not Interested in Being a Good Baptist

Photo Credit: Phoebe Stewart

I’m also not interested in being a good Methodist or Pentecostal or Presbyterian or any other denomination. I’m not even interested in being good. I just want to follow Jesus.

These last couple weeks I have seen so many people grieving. They were grieving the loss of a child, a parent, a marriage. I have seen people living in fear. They fear that they aren’t loved enough, they fear being in conflict with others, they fear messing up too much. Some of those people are even me.

This world is hard and painful. I need Jesus. I need him more every day. I just want more of Him, so I can give more love, more grace, more mercy. I can’t worry about a denomination. I can’t even worry about being ‘good’ by the standard of the world or people around me.

I just want to follow Jesus. I just want to be real and honest. I want to make a difference in this world by bringing more people to Him. I want more people to experience His love, His grace, His mercy. We all know deep down that we are broken and we don’t measure up. That truth lives in our hearts even when we try to deny that it is there. When we admit that it is there and we ask Jesus to fix it, there is so much good and peace and love. Jesus can make it better. The more we try to be like Jesus and follow Hom, the more we get better. So I just want to be better and help others be better.