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The Maze

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Scream pierces

the darkness

As rat hits

One more wall.

He sits dazed

A moment

Then once more

Shakes it off

Beginning

A new race.

In the dark,

A thick fog,

Darkness clings,

Dripping down,

Covers all.

So which way

To turn now.

Will that wall

Await again

Or will he

Find the prize.

The way out

He can’t see

The way here

The turns are

blind as the

straight-a-ways

to the rat.

But the man

Is watching

From above,

And He knows

The ending

His purpose

Not thwarted

By the rat’s

Blinded eyes.

His own to

Understand

The purpose

Of the maze;

Mine is but

Trust and learn

His great plan.

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Communication Busters: He said, she said

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If you have a significant other, I’m absolutely sure you’ve experienced this.  He thinks she said and she thinks he said and neither one has a clue.  It reminds me of a Friends episode in which Chandler and Monica were discussing their plans.  Phoebe was writing their conversation down in a book.  Later when they realized that he thought they were to meet at one time and she thought another, Phoebe whipped out the book and said she knew it all the time, reading their former conversation to them.

If only we had a replay button (or a Phoebe)!

As my husband and I grow older, this happens more frequently.  I think it has something to do with his hearing loss.  Of course my daughter is only 24 and she only hears the first thing I say and nothing more (discussed in a previous post).  In other words, I could be wrong about the reason, but it still seems to happen to us — a LOT!

A night out starts at Best Buy

Tonight, Brian and I found ourselves alone and so decided to go out and do something.  Dates with my husband do and always have included shopping.  I’m not that big a fan, but tonight he was shopping for me, so I was down with it.  We went by Sam’s Club to grab a price check on an IPad (my promised Christmas gift from, you know – last month).  Armed with comparison information, my ever bargain-hunting husband and I headed to BestBuy to check out IPads.  That went well; questions were answered;  my husband is now thinking it over to make a decision at some later date (hopefully soon) as to which one is the best deal.  After 29 years, I would expect nothing less and have learned patience.

 

Getting our grub on

We then head to O’Charley’s and have a nice dinner.  We both had fish, he talapia and I fried something white.  It was good and we had a nice time, discussing various things that did not include our grown children or our grandchildren.  A fun time was had by all.  Even the server left happy.

 

Wally World is waiting

The next leg of our trip was to WalMart.  I needed to get some things, and we were in that area.  I am getting to the point; hang in there.  I had left my phone at home (that’s never good), so my husband said, “If we lose one another, lets meet at the front.”  I agree and we go our separate ways with our separate lists.  I pick up my items, cruise the clearance racks (my kind of shopping) and head to the food section for a couple things.  We meet at the vegetables, and he puts his stuff in my cart and asks if I’m done.  I tell him almost and say, (I swear I said this) “I’m almost done so if you want to go on out to the car, I’ll be out in a minute.”  I turn to go find my cinnamon and cereal, and he disappears.

 

 

 

He said, she said

Here it comes:  He was still  on “meet at the front”; I was on “go on out”.  He disappeared and was nowhere to be found, so I checked out and went to the car (well, it’s a van).  Anyway, no Brian!  I go back in (no keys or we’d have been there all night with me sitting in the van and him looking for me) and sit waiting, talking to my favorite WalMart greeter, Joyce.  She even peeks around looking for him.  I finally see him and holler his name.  He gives me “the look”, takes his stuff through the register and we get to the van.

The first words after the van doors close

He starts with, “I told you to meet at the front.  I was waiting and waiting and starting to get upset.”

I come back with:  “I told YOU that I was almost done and would meet you at the van.”

He:  “You did not!”

Me: “Yes I did!”

He:  “Well I didn’t hear you.”

We agreed thereafter not to argue about what I did or did not say.  The point was that he did not hear me, and so misunderstanding ensued.

 

 

 

What’s a gal to do?

So what do you do in a world where these kind of misunderstandings happen?  Do I question him after every statement to make sure he heard and understood exactly what I said?  Hearing and understanding are two entirely different things by the way.  Does he need to question me and make sure I understood everything he says?  Well, that’s one way, but somehow, misunderstandings still happen.

 

 

How about this

“This” is the stuff of sitcoms and comedy.  It happens to all of us.  The problem (well most of the time) is not that these things happen, it’s what we tell ourselves when it happens.  In this particular scenario, I didn’t get overheated, but I’ve had my moments.  But, my husband, exhausted after a day of work and an evening with me (yes, I’m exhausting), was filling his head with all kinds of lovely things about me as he stood waiting for me to show.  By the time we found each other, laughing about it was not a possibility.

What happens then

At this point, he was not very happy with me.  He was even more tired than before and not in the mood to listen to my excuses. {Admit it; you’ve been there.}  What happens is an argument about who said what, who did what, who was wrong, etc.  One or both may wind up feeling insulted or angry that they are impuned.  Does this change what happened?  Nada.  Does this help keep it from happening the next time?  Maybe, but I’m going to say Nada.  Does it help he and she to have warm fuzzy feelings for each other?  Nada.  I’m not saying the issue should not be discussed, especially if it is a chronic problem, but getting hot under the collar and blowing it out of proportion does nothing to facilitate communication between two people.

 

 

 

It is best to:

►Beware of what you’re telling yourself during the misunderstanding.

►Beware what you say to the the other person after the misunderstanding.

►Count to 10 or whatever you do to calm down, then rethink what you want to say.

►Be nice!

►Failing all that, write a blog post about it.  Oh, no, that’s just me.

Has this ever happened to you?  What happened?  How did you resolve it?  Do you lean more toward having a good laugh or strangling your mate in these situations?  What advice would you give to others (like maybe newlyweds) about these inevitable misery misunderstandings mishearings?  How do you make sure you are really heard?  Is that even possible?  Got any great stories you want to share?  The comment box is yours 🙂

Communication busters: How do you treat those with whom you disagree?

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Today I read a post from a man I “met” on facebook and admire greatly.  It got me thinking, and I want to share it with you.  His first line:
As we’ve discussed before, how often do we or others tend to dismiss others (now-a-days calling them dumb or stupid or worse) if they disagree with us, especially about issues we are passionate about?  I frequently run into people on the internet who will absolutely act like I am the worst person in the world because I have an opinion they disagree with.  So what?  Do you agree with everyone you know?  If you are hanging out only with people who agree with you, you are in big trouble.  We need others in our life to debate with over the issues.   For the Christian, it is even more important to beware of this tendency.  God gave us free will, so we have the right to be wrong.  He may not remove the consequences for our choices, but He will not force us to jump on board either.  (See the discussion on freedom in Part V of the It’s all about the heart series.)
What God sees
God looks beyond the bluster and sees the heart.  If the person is genuine,  their belief system doesn’t make them horrible people.  God loves us in all our sin, and He wants us to show that love in how we interact with those who disagree with us.  That doesn’t mean we have to agree with them.  It does mean we need to treat them with love and absolute respect.  We all have many parts to us.  We all have flaws.  We all believe things that are not true or that others believe are not true.  Instead of tossing a person out as ‘unworthy’ because of something you don’t like, love them anyway and agree to disagree.  My favorite verse, Romans 5:8, says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  If God loves us in all our sin, we must show love to others as well.  God loves sinners.  He doesn’t like sin, but He does love sinners.  I, for one, am SO glad He does!  Sometimes finding common ground can help us see beyond the conflict to the heart of this person.
“While we were  yet sinners, . . . .”

How can others see Christ in us unless we show love?  We do not have to agree with someone to love them.  We do not have to approve of their opinions, values, beliefs or actions to love them.   True love shows respect, even in the midst of the most extreme disagreements.
What do others see in you?
When people interact with you, do they see something different?  Does the love of Christ shine out in how you treat them?  Or, do you give them reinforcement that Christians are rabid haters?  Even taking Christianity out of the equation – do you show yourself as a person worthy of respect by treating others with respect?  How do you feel when others respond in rage to everything you say?  How do you feel when others call you names or curse at you because you don’t believe as they do?  This is a good place to trot out   apply the golden rule:  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  We also need to be aware of the minimize mine/maximize yours effect and keep our own backyard clean not spend all our time criticizing the leaves in the neighbor’s yard if ours is full of garbage.
Be a diligent seeker
If we have in the back forefront of our mind that our goal is to bring glory to Christ, not to win an argument, we should do well.  As a Christian, you may be the only Christ others see – you want to come as close to the real thing as possible.  Even if you are not a Christian, you represent yourself and possibly others.  What others think may not be important to you, but you don’t want to drive away those who could enhance your life.  Character, integrity and honor are characteristics everyone should strive for.   For the Christian, it is even more important to represent Christ in a way that draws others instead of turning them away.
What it’s all about

The world’s mentality is often:  please me!  For the Christian, however, the mentality and the driving force should be: please Christ!  The picture I chose for this section is “God’s Garden”, and it was chosen for a reason.  We are all part of God’s garden.  He planted us, sustains us, and harvests us.   Plants tend to grow toward the light, and we should do the same.  If our face is always turned toward the sun/Son, as we seek the warmth of His love.  Just like a child seeks to please the parent, we seek to please our heavenly Father.   We need to remember the other flowers are watching too, whether from the church garden or the worlds. None of us are perfect, but we can do better than what is often found out there today.  It’s about that diligent seeking.

A huge thank you to Al Hartman for your inspiration for this post and permission to quote you.

Do you treat people with respect and dignity, even when they don’t agree with you?

Why do you think this is important?

How do you handle it when others treat you with disrespect?

Why do you think people treat others who disagree with them with disrespect?

If you are a Christian, what have you done to reflect Christ?

What are some things you have seen Christians do or say to reflect Christ (+) or gave Him a black eye (-). 

Communication Busters: Civility in politics?

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In a read-worthy article in Christianity today called “The Cure for Election Madness [How to be political without losing your soul]” , Amy E. Black brings up some very good points about the political situation today.  Having recently been cursed out and called a few names by those who disagree with me politically and having them point out I’m a highly unintelligent ignoramous for my beliefs, I know exactly what she means when she discusses the lack of civility in politics.  This is nothing new, but it seems to have escalated to a great degree.

Distractors

When a person stoops to name-calling, all real debate, all communication has ceased to exist.  Both sides of the US political scene have been guilty of the incivility, especially as they approach the 2012 election cycle.  Lacking the ability to debate one’s own beliefs or substantiate one’s own claims leads to an attempt to take the voter’s eyes off the real issues.  Mud-slinging is nothing but a distractor from the real issues.  It does what the name implies and covers all the issues with mud, so that you, the voter, can only see mud – everything gets ‘muddied’, muddled, and mutilated.  It also distracts from the fact that the mud-slinger cannot express him/herself in any other way.

What about you?

Most of us have come to accept, even though we dislike it, the idea that politicians are going to dig up the other candidates, great-great-great-great-grandfather’s sordid affair with the midwife and other such superfluous issues.  However, if you discuss politics at all, you must realize that the candidates are not the only one’s slinging mud.  What happened to civility?  Why do we have to put others down for not believing as we do?  They do have the right to be wrong!  So do you!

Amy Black writes:

“If we are to seek peaceful solutions and honor God in politics, we Christians of all people must avoid such hateful talk. James 4:11 commands us to “not slander one another,” an exhortation that should extend beyond how we treat other believers. Whether talking with friends or campaigning for our favorite candidate or cause, we should engage our political opponents and their ideas with respect, welcome the opportunity to learn from other perspectives, and find ways to disagree charitably as a natural part of the political process.”

►Engage other’s ideas with respect

All people deserve respect, even if they are wrong.  Since God is very clear that none of us really understand or get it right all the time, how arrogant are we to think that our beliefs (those not specifically spelled out in the Bible) are the correct ones and that means we can disrespect who we want for whatever reason we want?  [“There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” Romans 3:11]  To be blunt:  this too is sin.  This does not mean we have to be politically correct and bow down before the forces of evil.  It does mean we disagree in a respectful, Christ-honoring manner.  Jesus was known to call a few people names, such as ‘whited-sepulchers’, but we are not Jesus.  Jesus was speaking of their spiritual condition, and pointing out the hypocrisy of their religious trappings without a relationship with their creator.

►Welcome the opportunity to learn from others

“Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  Proverbs 27:17   I frequently find, in civil discourse, that I discover some new aspect of something.  It may even lead to a change of mind, change of focus, or at least a shared understanding.  It is the lack of civil discourse which leads folks to start thinking of themselves more highly than they ought, believing they are the true founts of knowledge from which all others must drink.  Once again:  how arrogant!  At the bottom of this tendency is pride:  bow to my wishes, ideas, political beliefs, etc., or I’ll make you wish you had!  I don’t know about you, but when people go on the attack, I don’t want to discuss with them any more.  Some people seem to like arguing, but I don’t like arguing just for the sake of arguing.  That is drama.  I do enjoy a good debate, however, where each side presents their ideas in civility, actually listening to the other person instead of eating them alive for daring to disagree.  It is when we isolate ourselves from the ideas of others (not accepting, but treating the person with respect) that we become narrow-minded hypocrites, full of self, seeking to make others into a carbon copy of us.

►Find ways to disagree charitably

Agreeing to disagree (in the political arena and elsewhere) allows us to share with one another, sharpen one another, and change society as a whole.  Regardless of what you think about my beliefs, ideas and ideals, feel free to agree or disagree, but please don’t scream at me, curse at me or call me names.  People are always in the teaching process.  When someone does the above, he or she has taught me something.  When a person is disrepectful, he or she has taught something.  People constantly teach others about something through their words and deeds:  they give a glimpse into their character, that inner person.  Civil discourse teaches others that while you uphold your own beliefs, you are willing to listen respectfully to others, and maybe, just maybe, learn something in the process.

God cares about the way we argue

“We shouldn’t retreat from the public square and we should work to build a better society. But I’m convinced that God cares about the way we argue as much as He cares about  the issues we espouse.”  This quote from Daniel Darlings blog post “Some great advice for the election season,” [where I discovered the Amy E. Black article].  As we dive into the debates, caucases and general election melee, God is watching and listening.  He cares about how you present yourself to the world.  He calls all of us to love, even when we disagree with one another!

 

Have you been guilty of mistreating another who disagrees with you?

Have you ever been on the recieving end of such?

How do you respond when others disrespect your beliefs or your right to have and express your beliefs, especially in the political arena?

How do you respond when others disagree with you?   Have you ever evaluated or prayed about your response?

You may be the only Jesus some people see.  Evaluate your ideals, beliefs and actions in light of the Scripture, and then go out as a light in the darkness and as salt to savor a bland world, debating with civility and the keeping the real enemy in mind.

The Family and Communicating – To Be or Not To Be?

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Family is a funny thing, especially when it comes to ‘communication’ issues.  Wouldn’t you think people who live with one another would have some kind of sixth sense about communication?  It never fails to make me shake my head in wonder when I have a seemingly straightforward with one of my own only to find out actual communication never happened.                                                                                                                                        

Selective hearing? 

Image by clarita at http://mrg.bz/gyKDsp

My daughter, who I love dearly by the way, tends to hear one set of instructions.  So if I want her to do something (will I ever learn!?) I need to break it down into bite-sized chunks and/or write it down.  Sometimes, even writing it down is not enough. ::sigh::

I recently sent my daughter to the store for ice cream and chips.  I wrote down the instructions and then carefully went over them.  I wanted a small bag of chips; that she got.  The ice cream is what got her, though. I said I do not want the teeny tiny portion (5 oz) and I do not want a half-gallon.  Using my fingers, I showed her about what size I wanted to have.  All went well up to this point.  Head is nodding; message understood.

Then momma made a mistake.  I said, “I want you to keep it as cheap as possible as well.”  Did that negate the size factor?  Yes, it did.  She came in after her trip to the store and handed me one of the teeny tiny portions of ice cream. (Not enough for a good bite!)  After brief, um, ‘discussion’, it turned out that she heard cheap, blah, blah, blah.

If that wasn’t enough for one of those ‘shaking the head’ moments, she proceeds to pull out a container of ice cream she bought for herself – the size I wanted!  Unfortunately, it was a different kind, but still!  Why would I send her to the store with my money to buy me a cheap portion of something and herself a larger one?  Sadly, this is the story of my life.  She hones in on one thing and the rest is just Mom idly flapping her gums.

Mind-reading – on the defensive?  

Then the other day, after watching her hunched over her cell phone when she was supposed to be keeping an eye on the kids, I asked, “Who is he?”  You would have thought I asked to see her internal organs or something judging by her reaction.  “I always have to defend myself” and “I’ll just never have any friends” are two of the phrases that came out of her mouth.  Defensive much?  Will she ever learn that the instant attitude gives ol’ Mom a huge clue?

So in the space of a portion of a second, she read my mind.  I said, “Who is he?” but my mind must have said something like, “What in the world are you talking to that boy for – you’re never going to learn.”

Common to Mankind?

I apologize to my daughter (24 btw) for using her for an example here, but she provides such great fodder.  We all have a tendency to do this, especially in families.  We have remembered ‘slights’ or other things that filter our reactions (and our ability to actually listen) to others in our family.  No wonder families sometimes have drama and communication issues.

So what experiences have you had with family member communication?  We all have them.  We’ve all done it.  I bet a few of my readers can top my stories, so feel free to share.

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