After We Fail

It was a windy summer day and I was finally going to learn how to sail.  I was at a friend’s lake house and he happened to have a small Sunfish sailboat, just the right size for a newbie like me.  He had been sailing for years and was willing to take me out with him to show me the ropes.  He taught me how to sit, steer with the rudder, read the wind and the correct way to turn the boat.  I was just getting the hang of it when he said, “Okay, now we are going to flip the boat.”  My eyebrows shot up.  Umm… really?  On purpose?  He proceeded to explain, “Flipping the boat is the scariest thing you can do.  Once you know how to flip it back over you have nothing else to worry about.”

The Opportunity of Struggle

“Do you view struggle as a threat or as an opportunity?”  Shawn Achor – Before Happiness

This quote by Shawn Achor stopped me in my tracks.  It was very convicting.  I know that I have spent most of my life viewing struggle or potential suffering as a threat.  He follows this question up with another:  “Do you spend most of your time creating escape plans or success plans?”  Yikes.  Of course, if you view struggle as a threat then you will be spending most of your time creating an escape plan, ready to flee instead of move forward.

Being Right and Loving Well

Series: The Love Mantras

I grew up in a legalistic Christianity in which the highest value was being right.  To know the right things, say the right things, do the right things and believe the right things were what was most important.  This is what punishment and praise were based on in my childhood.

I quickly became a rule follower.  I wanted praise and got it when I adhered to the rules.  To want to do the right thing and follow rules is not a bad thing in an of itself, but when it is not balanced it becomes ugly.  What it created in me was a judgement, prideful perfectionist, who always needed to be right.  What I have found is that rightness needs to be balanced by love.

The Platinum Rule

Series: The Love Mantras

We have all heard the old phrase: “Love people the way you want to be loved.”  It is a great way to start children thinking about empathy.  Dad says, “Would you want them to do that to you?  No?  Then you shouldn’t do that to them!”  But, this phrase is only a starting point because as we all know we are all different.  Especially those of us who are married or have kids, we realize quickly and confusingly, how different we all are.  Our needs, thoughts, perspectives, motivations and more are a smorgasbord of responses and we never know which ones are going to pop up.  Loving others the way I want to be loved is a very narrow and sometimes selfish posture. 

Love Others Well

Series: The Love Mantras

Years ago I was headed to a family gathering with my wife.  Maybe you are like me and have occasional relational struggles with family.  Those that are closest to us can hurt us the most!  As I headed into this family time I was aware of a specific individual that drives me a little crazy and I certainly had not loved this person well in the past.  I had recently been given Love Mantra #1: Love Others Well.  Even though I wasn’t super enthusiastic about it, I had a plan.  My mission for that weekend was to love this person well.  When she needed something I would jump to serve her.  When she said something that annoys me I would try to let it go.  When she did something that annoyed me I would offer grace.  All in all, I would go out of my way to be kind, helpful, thoughtful, curious and offer the best benefit-of-the-doubts I could.  Yikes, this is a tall order.

Love Mantras

Series: The Love Mantras

Years ago I was at a men’s retreat, in the woods, spending time with Jesus.  I remember saying that I wanted to help people but was frustrated because I was not able to figure out how to do that.  God’s response was this, “Yes, Matthew.  This is what I have made you to do.  But before I can trust you with my people, you must learn to love.”  It was like a punch in the chest.  I felt the weight and truth of these words because even though I already had a lot of wisdom and passion, I had a long way to go in learning to love.

Self-Empathy

Series: Learning to Love Well

“I can’t believe I am such an idiot!”  “I always do that!”  “See… I knew I would screw it up.”  There are all kinds of self-diminishing words that we speak over ourselves.  Subconsciously we often repeat things that we have heard or felt over the years.  They slip out when we are triggered by failures and embarrassments; when things don’t go the way we wanted them to.  It may not be obvious all the time, but we all do it.

Programmed to be Right

Series: Learning to Love Well

I recently spent some time with friends who are going through struggle and hurt related to church politics.  It is so painful for me, even as an outsider, to see the pain born out of posturing, shaming and betrayal leaving so many people distraught.  I get to offer help in this situation for those that I know and love.  As they ask for my advice and help navigating these issues, I am noticing how easy it is for me to get sucked into the same type of defensive tactics that are the original source of the pain.  Out of my love for the people I know, I want to defend and attack.  What is that about?

A Posture of Yes

Series: Learning to Love Well

What is your internal response when someone gives you a compliment?  We all have pat answers to make sure we don’t get caught in awkward situations with nothing to say, but what is really going on inside?  Isn’t there a pull to diminish the compliment and squelch the vulnerability that comes with it? 

Learning to Recieve

Series: Learning to Love Well

Many of us have heard the verse “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)  We smile and nod and maybe feel a little guilty for the times we have been a little selfish.  But overall, it is something that makes sense to most of us.  We should focus on being a generous and giving person.  But being a cheerful giver is only half the equation.  We are missing a very important piece of the process.