Tag Archives: Relationships

A Lesson from Star Trek

A few months ago, we ventured out of the land of Hulu and back into DirecTV. With our newly found plethora of channels, the family sat on the couch and rifled through the endless list of shows. I happened upon an old Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of my favorites from back then, and was quickly drawn into the story. When a commercial hit, reality set in and I quickly changed the channel thinking my kids must be about to lynch me for subjecting them to such torture. But to my surprise, they hollered, “What are you doing? Put it back!” Hence dawned our new family “tradition” of watching the series from beginning to end, compliments of Amazon Prime.

As you may or may not know, most of the show’s storylines are founded around a current cultural topic which is extrapolated into an extreme or futuristic version of that situation. Entire species of “humanoids” are fabricated from inflated versions of cultural no-no’s, making for some interesting and conflicted plots. In the episode we watched last night, a woman’s fundamental genetic make-up and sole purpose in life was to morph her entire person into the perfect companion for her mate. She was a biologically natural but rare form of their species who had a specific purpose in life, to prepare for an arranged marriage with the leader of a rival faction to begin the restoration process. Until she was married to this person, her life was a constant morphing of personality traits and characteristics that aligned to whomever happened to be in the room with her at that time. She effectively had no definition of self. Once married, she would bond with her spouse and be permanently created as the person who is her mate’s perfect companion.

As the show progressed, this woman found herself, for the first time, finding a version of her self which she realized made her a better person. This happened when she was in contact with one particular person, in this case the captain of the ship, Jean Luc Picard.

She had a found person that made her a better person.

The night before she was to be married to the rival faction leader, she chose to bond with Captain Picard. Meaning, she chose to create a permanent version of herself which was better than any she had known previously, and in doing so, accepted the sacrifice of having to work to be the perfect mate to her soon-to-be-spouse.

The story was quite dramatic in watching the evolution of her awakening and the dawning of realization that two people can work together to build each other up into something better.

As the showed replayed itself in my mind, I started to experience a sense of loss, a longing for a partner in which the other person made me a better person.

Then the reality hit me. I do have this. His name is Jesus.

There is a song by Britt Nicole, All This Time, whose lyrics come to mind now:

I hear these people asking me
How do I know what I believe?
Well I’m not the same me
And that’s all the proof I need

I started thinking of all the ways in which Jesus has made me a better person since I started following Him. When the first couple came to mind, I pulled out a sheet of paper from the scrap drawer and actually thought to myself, “Oh, I’m going to waste this whole sheet of paper on two thoughts.” But I wrote them down anyway. Fifteen minutes later, I had filled the entire page with all the ways He has changed me. Here’s my list:

More compassionate, less controlling, less judgmental, more value in myself, more humble, better at shutting my mouth, more patient, more aware, less destructive, more perceiving, less easily influenced by negative things, more conviction, less greedy, less materialistic, less close-minded, less shameful, less living by guilt, more tolerant, more friendly to strangers, more co-operative, less rigid where unnecessary and more firm where needed, less complaining, more protective where needed, less fearful about: money, jobs/unemployment, rejecting cultural norms, my “reputation”, speaking the truth, speaking about Jesus, artificial dependencies (my home, money in the bank, etc); more ability to dream in what’s possible, more creative, less of a chameleon, better understanding of community, more likely to donate money / more open-handed, less likely to follow old behavior patterns, more loving and appreciative and understanding toward my mom, a better parent, a better co-worker, a better wife, a better sister, better at smiling at people, more health conscious, better listener, more competent in my job.

And lastly, after all that, I realized the one that surprised me the most. I realized that during the show, I did not relate to or align with this woman’s chameleon nature, when in fact, this is exactly what I used to be – a shape-shifter morphing the definition of myself to others’ needs for the purpose of receiving love. A painful and terrifying way to go through life. He relieved me of that burden and gave me a new heart about myself.

If you are looking for someone to walk with you, to build you up into a better person, to remain beside you during your slips and failures, and to stay by your side for the lifetime of getting better while never expecting perfection, then Jesus is your answer. Give yourself to Him today so He can help you become a better you.

Worlds Apart Post 2: Icarus and the Pride Test

Icarus is a Greek Mythological character who escapes imprisonment by the king through his father’s successful attempt to create wings of feathers and wax and fly away. Before they fly to freedom, the father warns Icarus not to fly too high nor too low so the sun cannot melt the wax nor the ocean dampen the feathers. But once free from captivity, Icarus soars on his wings, not heeding his father’s advice and flies too close to the sun. The heat melts the wax and Icarus falls to the ocean and drowns.

The second chunk of lyrics in my series on the Jars of Clay song, Worlds Apart, are this:

Soaring on the wings of selfish pride, I flew too high and like Icarus I collide

Most people think pride is synonymous with arrogance. They think of the guy who’s always bragging on his bankroll or the lady who’s got her face in the mirror all the time. Although pride may manifest that way, that’s not the whole deal. I’ve splashed a couple scriptures through this post to build a better picture of what God says it is. They rocked me off my rocker when I was first convicted of it…

Here’s the first:

Psalm 10:4: In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God

Ok, so basically, not thinking about God means there is pride. It means when there is a problem, we are not looking to our Father for advice on how to fix it. We should expect the wax on our feathers to be getting a bit gooey if we’re not in His word looking for the solution.

Here’s another:

Proverbs 13:10: Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice

Who has strife in their relationship with their husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, friend, child, co-worker? OK, seriously, who doesn’t? I sought plenty of advice, as the scripture directs, before my marriage splintered… and I made darn sure my husband knew about it every time. And that he knew everything HE wasn’t taking advice on. Strife is pride; it has a sneaky way of getting masked as “helping”. I had to get over trying to “help” my husband.

Proverbs 14:3: A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.

Lashing out at somebody, accusing them, is prideful and foolish. A world of hurt results from inaccurate interpretations of the other person’s motives as assessed by their behaviors. This is my soapbox, so I’m going to cut it short here before I write a novel. I had to learn to seek knowledge about my husband’s behaviors instead of accusing him. Asking questions (real, legitimate questions, not accusatory, directed questions) creates the shift to overcome this highly destructive behavior. “You always” and “you never” type statements are your red flags that you’re floundering in foolish folly.

So, here I am, back in my car listening to Worlds Apart (see post 1), tears streaming down my face, with God showing me how prideful I’d been in my marriage, breaking down, shredding, that perception of myself that I was the one doing all the work and the entitlement I felt about that. Here is the little litmus test I devised for myself to check whether I’m backsliding into the pit of pride:

If I am spending more of my time thinking and talking about what the other person is doing wrong than I am searching for how to change my attitude and behaviors, I am stuck in pride.

And I’m just going to go ahead and restate that so you can experience it at a more personal level:

If you are spending more of your time thinking and talking about what the other person is doing wrong than you are searching for how to change your attitude and behaviors, you are stuck in pride.

If you are currently feeling low, consider this powerful scripture:

Proverbs 29:23: Pride brings a person low, but the lowly in spirit gain honor.

It is your pride that makes you feel low. Kind of a shocking revelation, isn’t it?

Are we at risk of melting our wings? We need to stop and assess whether we are flying too high. If so, we need to step back and take the advice of our Father and behave according to His word. We should not expect anything more than to crash and burn should we choose to fly too high.

http://www.vagalume.com.br/jars-of-clay/worlds-apart.html

Speak Life

I woke up to a great TobyMac song in my mind this morning, Speak Life, which prompts this post.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeBv9r92VQ0&feature=kp

One of the *great* manifestations of my having been abused as a child is to have lived with a perpetual expectation of impending death. This was such a facet of life for me, that up until just a few years ago, I didn’t even understand that it’s NOT NORMAL! That not everyone walks around thinking everyday life events spell sudden death.

Now, to reset the garish perception that I run around with a blanket over my head checking my locks 47 times, refuse to leave the house because the sidewalk might freakishly rupture and swallow me whole, or believe an alien abduction awaits me at every turn of the corner, it looks more like this. A bracing of my muscles as I drive into an intersection waiting to get fatally t-boned in the driver side door (particularly if I’m the first, last, or an isolated car). Turning a string of headaches into an inoperable tumor in my brain. Thinking that ongoing stiffness in my back means cancer leaching up my spine. When in reality they are, unlikely, job stress, and an old mattress, respectively.

So, praise God, I’m free from the emotions associated with the thoughts of impending death, even though it’s pretty much impossible to stop them from coming into my brain. But as I’ve taken that ridiculous outer layer off the death onion, I’m now privy to recognizing the more subtle ways that impending death invades my life.

At one time, waiting for my marriage to die

Waiting for the innocence of my children to die

Waiting for my son to die emotionally, spiritually

Waiting for friendships, relationships to die

Waiting for dreams to die

And the list goes on…

I was just waiting for all these things to die because I wasn’t doing the opposite, fighting for LIFE! That’s not to say I wasn’t working hard on them, on the contrary, I was working ridiculously hard, and then waiting for them to die.

Check out the first words of every verse of the story of creation:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1&version=NIV

They all start with, “And God said…”  He SPOKE life into everything. Not planned, not executed, not met with 14 other people, not strived, worked, developed, designed, counseled, read, discussed…

I’ve done ALL these things to an excruciating, painful, exhausting end, and they are all absolutely necessary, BUT, they can only be effective AFTER the life of God’s word has been breathed into the situation. Otherwise, the effort is spent while waiting to die.

Breathing God’s life into a situation is just as simple as speaking it; speaking aloud that you receive the life of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’s name into a situation and you reject death. The spoken words alone are powerful enough to alter your perspective on the spot. God is the giver of life, and that doesn’t mean just at our conception and birth. It means, perpetually and unfailingly every single day. Seize this great opportunity by Speaking Life today.

A Cup of Marbles

A staggering statistic from the Art of Marriage DVD series prompted this post.  On average, the ratio of negative to positive things a person will say about their spouse is 15 to 1!  15 to 1!  I was shocked when I first heard this, but in looking back and being truthful, I was excelling at this behavior and probably could have taken the blue ribbon home.  Let’s just be real afterall.  I remember many early mornings running with my ladies training for a half marathon and spending the entire time yapping in their ears about all my husband’s issues and problems, while of course I had the answers to all of them if he would only listen.  No wonder we were on the divorce course (and that’s another blog post for another time).  Let’s just say God dealt with me on that one and we’ve happily celebrated 20 years this year.  But from that, I created this visual in my mind of a cup of marbles that sits between a husband and wife that represents the relative state of either building up or tearing down the marriage.

As newlyweds, the cup is overflowing with *love marbles* and both the husband and wife are happily taking, taking marbles out of the cup.  Life is grand.  But they are depleting the supply until eventually there’s only one lonely marble rolling around in the cup.  Someone grabs it.  Hmm.  Now the husband and wife are both pulling on the cup trying to get more love marbles out but of course that’s not working.  So they start blaming each other that there’s *no love* in the cup and demanding that the other person put marbles in.  “You aren’t doing this… you aren’t doing that… if you would do this, I would be happy… if she would only change this… if he would only change that…”  We get focused on everything the other person is doing wrong and happily tell everyone about it, 15 to 1.  In our thoughts, in our words, in our actions, we are sending the message that our spouse is unworthy and we are reinforcing it in our own minds.  We are tearing the marriage down.  How do we turn this around?  How do we walk in faith in our marriages to build them up?  The answer is simple, change the ratio.

The faith walk in marriage is unconditional love from the husband and unconditional respect from the wife.  Whether or not your spouse is being a putz, you are called to be unconditionally loving or unconditionally respectful (assuming we are not talking about an abuse situation).  This means speaking to and about your spouse in loving and respectful ways.  Stop and check yourself before you say something – is it respectful or disrespectful, loving or unloving?  Make an intentional effort to say something nice to and about your spouse every day and cut down on the complaints.  Make the ratio 10 to 1, make it 5 to 1, make it 1 to 1.  Keep working it down.  You will see how quickly the *love cup* starts filling up again.  The level of resistance you feel to doing this will tell you how far off the path you’ve veered from God’s design for marriage.  When I started doing this, I was surprised to see two things (1) how much trust I had lost from my husband that I needed to rebuild; he came to expect that I was just always going to cut him down and (2) how much more committed I felt to the marriage just by staying in the game and staying respectful even during tough conversations.

Your marriage is worth it; your spouse is worth it.  Give it this much, change the ratio, to see the glory of God’s design start to manifest in it.