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I’m Done With Being Done

fighting

I’m Done!

It’s a statement used more and more often these days when relaying a story that involves frustration or anger, indicating that a person is ready to walk away. It seems like it started out as a way to explain how someone broke up with their gym membership or cellphone company, but now it is used in everyday conversation about relationships with others. What’s interesting to me is that people have various ways of regarding this statement, where one person may mean, ‘I’m done with this conversation’ and the other thinks, ‘I’m done with this relationship’. The misunderstanding can continue to the point of a break up, and even divorce. I know because I have seen it happen more than once.

Making statements like I’m done is an indication that you need better communication skills in the relationship. When we were dating I was known for my dramatic exits; making my case and leaving the room/building/state before my guy could say anything. I made it so much more difficult to begin the conversation again, and then to move on to resolution because I was done. Not forever, but until I could win again. Not only was this unfair to my guy, it was so damaging to us. You see, even though I wasn’t ending our relationship with these statements, I was severing our connection. 

How can we do this better?

By committing to staying in the conversation. Maybe someone needs some physical space, that’s normal, but honor the relationship by staying in the overall conversation. When I began to see the damage I had added to our already fragile relationship, I told my guy I would stop exiting the stage and I did. Sometimes it was very difficult to stand firm, but it made a huge difference in how we resolved conflict.

Avoid making sweeping declarations of any kind, especially when you are angry or frustrated. Saying things like I’m done serves no purpose other than to make you feel better in the moment. You may think you are standing up for yourself, but in a marriage, you are shutting everything down, including yourself. It is so much harder to restart after these kinds of statements than it is to continue working.

Talk to someone you trust about how you’re feeling. Learn from someone who has been there, how to choose words that will invest in the relationship, instead of killing it. Make the choice to remove these kinds of declarations from your vocabulary because they do not benefit anyone.  And when you have decided that this is the case, share your decision with that trusted friend and with your spouse.

Two little words can have such an impact.

I do.

It meant everything one time. Change your I’m done back to I do and just see what happens.

Hiking

Goose

Yesterday my guy texted our oldest and suggested that the three of us take the dogs out to a trail she discovered months ago. We take the beasts for walks in the neighborhood almost daily, but our girl is known for venturing out with them and coming back with tales of beauty and risk. We packed up the truck and headed out before dinner.

Our daughter found the area in the Spring and had told us all about it, the way it was a forest preserve that butted up to a neighborhood and led to a river, she had even taken me out to the trailhead once but we didn’t get out of the car. I don’t remember why that was. As we were driving there, she warned us that the trail could be overgrown this late in the summer and honestly I was hoping it would be, so we could just run the dogs in the usual field and I could start dinner.

But the trail was perfect. We walked through a high grassy area to the tree line and a whole new world opened up to us. The dogs ran ahead, so excited to be back in nature’s playground. Our voices reverberated off the trees and I was reminded of my hours spent in the woods when I was little. As we hiked, we talked with our girl (I really do think of her as a woman, but she’s my girl) about her plans and her thoughts as she is leaving this state in just a few days. We reached our destination, the edge of the river and watched the water flow quickly, never to return to this precise place again. Our girl is spending time with friends this week, saying good-byes and I knew she was doing the same to this sacred place. We didn’t get to stay long because the sun was quickly setting, so it felt right to get moving.

As we were returning, (the trip back is always faster, isn’t it?) I had a realization about our daughter; a relationship with Jessica is very much like that hike we took. As someone meets her, they can quickly find a place to connect and begin a friendship, something that is known and comfortable like the field where we take our dogs each day. But there are a few people who will take the time to listen and hear who she really is, and ask if they can  join her to see for themselves what she is talking about, and when they do, they are witnesses to something sacred.

 

Handle With Care

bubble wrap

Feeling a need for bubble wrap today. I want to take a huge roll of the stuff and start it at my core and spin around multiple times, I’ll need a helper with some strong tape to secure it tight after I’m snug in there. Maybe some headphones first, alternating between smooth jazz and the sound of waves crashing, then bubble wrap. Can you see through several layers of it? Sunglasses too, just in case.

That’s how fragile I feel, like nerve endings are standing off of my skin. Our son moved into college over the weekend and our oldest daughter is moving across the country to start her schooling later this week. The baby of the family? Yep, just left for her first day of senior year in high school. I have been working myself out of a job for years, knowing full well that this day would come, and yet I am completely unprepared. I don’t recognize the landscape anymore.

I actually woke up mad at Jesus Saturday morning, reminding him that I thought we had an agreement that He would come before I had to endure all of this! Fortunately, He can handle my anger. And my ache.

A friend of a friend reminded me of something over the weekend: lament is an appropriate form of worship. In fact, more than one third of the book of Psalms are laments, cries of fear and suffering and unjust. God wants us to bring our joy and anguish to Him, He wants every bit of it. So these days I am handing him my puffy eyes, deep sighs and crying jags that sometimes come out of nowhere. I’m going to try to go easy on myself and feel all the feelings that go with this parenting deal, so if you see me staring into space or trying hard not cry, feel free to pretend not to notice, and maybe check to make sure my bubble wrap is staying in place, will you?

 

 

 

Get Behind Me, Satan

photo (16)  Catalog and direct sales companies send them out for a reason. If she just opens it once, she will see what her life could be…..

This is the lie that can grab hold and make you wonder if life wouldn’t be better if only…..

Not really all that different from a certain snake in a certain garden all those years ago…..

You shall have no other gods before me. Exodus 20:3

 

Same As It Ever Was

talkingheadsRecently I had the opportunity to attend a Christian conference where the main goal was to get away and focus on yourself, reflect on your life and try to imagine what God was calling out in you for the future. It was a time of refreshment and introspection, and I am still processing a lot of information. It was interesting to me that while on this journey I was hyper aware of the people that God placed in front of me; I was convinced that each interaction was God-ordained and a nugget of His truth could be extracted from every conversation.

 I was open.

Then I went back home, back to the laundry, cooking and ferrying of children to many places. Back to work, where the people can be hard to love. Same as it ever was.

Why is it that I was so willing to see God’s involvement in the people I met at the conference? Because I expected God to show up, and I know that He often does through others. The problem is that I limited God to the conference. Why don’t I have this expectation each day, with whomever is placed in front of me? I want to look for God in everyone, and be on the alert for God moments in the everyday.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13

By the way, I would recommend the conference whole-heartedly: http://www.mystoryline.net/

Listen and Obey

obeyWhen our kids were little we had a constant saying in our house: your job is to ‘listen and obey’. It seemed to cover most every situation and was simple enough to understand, but difficult enough to accomplish that it had to be repeated many times throughout the day.

As the children got older, they started to question the command, asking me what my job was; I told them that my job was to ‘keep them safe’, and as long as they were doing their job and I was doing mine, everything was going to ‘be just fine’. Notice the three word combinations; easy words, hard concepts.

Today there is no need to follow our kids around, reminding them of their jobs anymore, but that doesn’t change the fact that they, and all of us, need to listen and obey God and help to keep one another safe and everything will be just fine.

Blessed are those who hear the word of God and obey it. Luke 11:28

Good Example

warningFor years when my kids were little I was able to get away with a few double standards in my life:

Eat all your fruits and veggies before having something sweet

Work up a sweat every single day

And my favorite, never watch something on TV that isn’t educational and/or uplifting

There are many more, I’m mortified to say, but those quickly come to mind. I justified having these rules for my children because I was responsible for their health and wanted to teach them good habits at an early age. The problem was that I wasn’t always practicing what I preached.

Fast forward a few years and now I have three young adults who could fend for themselves and survive quite well for days on end if needed. For the most part, they make really good choices in how they care for their bodies; very similar to the way I showed them over the years, not the way I taught them. My teens are a perfect case study for learning by example over learning by rules.

These days I am taking ‘my rules’ more to heart than ever, choosing a more active lifestyle, replacing sweets with more nutritious choices, and filtering movies and books through the eyes of my children. Any book that I download will appear in my daughters’ lists, and movies that my husband and I watch are available to all in our home. Honestly, I don’t know if it will rub off on my children this late in the game, but it is worth the effort for me to live a healthier lifestyle and to be the kind of person I wanted for each of them.

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