What You May as Well Forget

deleteHe snarled and complained about his job.  A friend of his, who worked for another company, had recently received a promotion.  “Some people get all the breaks!” He went on to talk about his friend who didn’t have to work near as hard as he did.  There was no sense of joy for his friend.  Nor did this man seem to take responsibility for anything related to his own career. Rather, he complained about how everyone else seems to get all the breaks.

I have learned there are some things in life that are best forgotten.  Now I haven’t always practiced this.  I can think of years in which I was stuck in unproductive thinking.  I allowed too much futile thinking to take up space and time.  Yet, how I think and what I focus on really do impact my life.

I want to suggest that some things need to be forgotten.

Forget what might have been.

Some people spend much of their energy focused on what might have been.  For them, life would have been great “if only.”  They are stuck in the past.

“If only my wife (or husband) was different.”

“If only I had taken a different job.”

“If only I had been treated fairly in my career.”

“If only I had gotten the breaks my brother-in-law received.”

Forget the entitlement.

Some people go through life believing they are entitled to a certain life.  This may be the young couple who believe they are entitled to a certain lifestyle (that may have taken their parents 35 years to afford.)  Others believe they are entitled to happiness and seem willing to break whatever commitments they’ve already made in order to experience this.  Years ago, a woman used this very expression in a conversation with me.  “I’m entitled to be happy” she said.  Two weeks later she left her husband and children.  People who are focused on their own sense of entitlement will break commitments and abandon relationships if they seem to stand in the way.

Forget the focus on someday.  

Some people are preoccupied with “someday.”  They speak as if life begins in the future.  Someday they plan to save money, get their finances in order, and live within their means.  Many people speak of changing their lives someday and quitting bad habits someday.  Yet life is experienced today not someday.

Each one of these approaches to life is a dead end street.  No progress is made when I am focused on any of these.  Life is happening today, not yesterday or someday.  I am entitled to nothing. Whatever good thing I experience in this life is a gift of God to be received with gratitude.

Question

What else needs to be forgotten?

 

 

Just Close Your Eyes and Hope it Will Be All Right

closed-eyesSome of us seem to live by the adage, “If I don’t talk about it, it is not real.” Or put another way, “If I don’t talk about it then maybe it will go away.”

Consequently we close our eyes and hope it will go away.

Have you known anyone like this?

1. The doctor gives a stern warning to a 40-year-old man, “You have cancer. This has to be addressed immediately.” The man later tells friends, “I won’t be going back to the doctor anymore. I’m not about to undergo those treatments.” Just close your eyes and hope it will be all right.

2. The woman says nothing to her husband who exhibits all kinds of suspicious behavior. In front of their friends, they talk about their fantastic marriage. Meanwhile, at home they sit in silence, rarely speaking to one another. Just close your eyes and hope it will be all right.

5 Ways to Mess Up Your Kids

MessMost parents I know love their children and want to do a good job with them.  Many of these people will do most anything to give their children a head start in life.  Some will go to extraordinary lengths to give their children an advantage.

Yet, it is possible to parent in such a way as to make it difficult for them to grow up, mature, and live as Christ-followers.

The following are some ways to mess up your kids:

1.  Model before them a self-centered life.  Focus on yourself, your pleasures, your desires, and your preferences.  Teach them by way of your example that life is all about “me.”

I was in a conversation with a woman who was abandoning her husband and children in order live her own life.  She wanted to believe that her leaving would have no long term impact on her children.

The reality is that our self-centered behaviors really do impact others.  They certainly impact our children.

Are You Comfortable With This Person?

Pretense

When someone refers to another as “unpretentious” it is often quite a compliment. Such a statement is not typically made with cool detachment but with great pleasure. After all, unpretentious people are not only people we like but are often people who cause us to feel good when we are with them.

Meanwhile, we may know also know some people who we might describe as “pretentious.” These people perceive themselves to be important and have a way of being with others that may cause them to feel critiqued and evaluated.

I recall a conversation with a woman who had walked into a social setting where she was to meet a new friend. She sensed the eyes of others staring at her. She felt as if others were thinking, “Who is she and who invited her here?”

Meanwhile, her new friend came into the room and warmly greeted her guest. In spite of the rather cool beginning, she actually enjoyed the evening. The nice evening was attributed to her friend whom she describes as being completely unpretentious.

Have you been in situations like this where you were put at ease by another’s lack of self-importance?

3 Ways We Lose When We Don’t Connect with Others

disconnectionThe other day I was on the telephone with one of my daughters.  We talked for a few minutes when suddenly she said, “Well Dad, I guess I had better go.”

I responded by saying, “Already?  What is your hurry?”

She then said, “Dad-I can tell you are distracted.”

Uh-oh.

I could not argue.  I was distracted.  Charlotte and I had just arrived home after a trip to Arkansas.  I was distracted the moment we walked into the house.  I apologized and said that I would love to talk with her.  She said, “Let’s talk some other time.”

I suspect many of us have experienced such conversations.  However, sometimes the failure to be fully present with others is more than a momentary occurrence.  Some people are just not emotionally present regardless of the circumstances.  This is just the way they function.  In other words, they live each day not really present in the moment they have right now.

What do we lose when we are not fully present?

When You Fail to Show Respect

respect-dotRespect.

I suppose it may not a word that immediately gets your attention.  Perhaps it doesn’t have much buzz or flair.

Yet the importance of showing another respect is huge.

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

  • A young husband is condescending to his wife, making her feel as if she is less intelligent than he is.
  • A teenager has a confrontation with his dad.  He tells his dad to “shut up” and walks away.  Thirty minutes earlier the boy was in a Wednesday evening Bible class.
  • A young woman is disrespectful to her mother-in-law, speaking to her in way that is demeaning and hurtful.
  • A man disrespects his wife, flirting with women at the office.  One woman at the office remarks, “You mean he’s married?”
  • A minister degrades the elders to others in the congregation and then kisses up to them in an elders meeting.  Disrespect.
  • An older man in the church abruptly approaches a young minister and says something insulting and crude in front of a visitor.

I am not suggesting that people needed to be “nicer.”

Monday Start: Resources for the Week

StartIn your backpack

Pete Scazzero writes thoughtful posts regarding the interior life.  See his post “Removing the Clutter.”  Scazzero asks this important question, “What are you carrying in your “leadership backpack” that needs to be removed so you can listen for God in your interior world?”

Self-differentiation

Also, don’t miss this post by Scazzero  “Am I Becoming a More Mature, Differentiated Leader?”  This is such an important concept for any leader to grasp.  I am thankful for Ed Friedman whose books, papers, and speaking introduced me to this concept many years ago.

Creativity

See Ann Voskamp’s post “Why Your Soul Needs You to Make Time to be Creative: 7 Keys to Being More Creative.”  This is a good post!  Like so many of Ann’s posts, it has numerous pictures and a fresh way of expressing the ordinary.  Be sure to finish the post since the seven keys are actually listed at the end.

Time

Lifehacker recently had a post entitled “The Best Time of Day to Do Anything.”  Agree or disagree, these posts typically make me think.  For example, skim through this post “The Best Sounds for Getting Work Done.”

Sex

See Thom Rainer’s post “Sex, Millennials, and the Church: Five Implications.”  I appreciate Rainer’s tone as well as his research.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Real Life Happening Yet?

reallifelogoFor years, I waited.

My perception of my life was all about circumstances. I saw myself as not being in the ideal circumstances but assured myself that one day things would be different. As I saw it, the present was always lacking in some way. However, things would really be good when, one day, life would be what I wanted it to be.

When I was single, I thought life would really begin when I got married.

When I was in college, I thought life would really begin when I graduated.

When I was in graduate school, I thought life would really begin when I finished the program.

When I was married, I thought life would really begin when we could settle down somewhere.

When we were renting a house, I thought life would really begin when we could own a home.

Can I Trust This Person?

trust_meter2-450x300Good question!  This is a question that many of us ask regularly.

Not long ago, a friend expressed his appreciation for our relationship.  He spoke of how often he had confided in me through the years.  I came away from that conversation not only appreciating our friendship more but with greater resolve to always be a trustworthy friend to him.

Far too often we learn that some people are just not trustworthy.

  • A person sabotages an initiative of a co-worker behind her back while being nice to when she is present.
  • You learn that a man in your community apparently has been living a double life that totally violates the convictions he claims to hold.
  • A student plagiarizes material that she used for a research paper.
  • A friend tells someone else some information that you shared with him in confidence.

In friendships, in a church, or in a working relationship, it is especially important to know that you can trust another with what you say and what is said to you.

There is absolutely no substitute for being trustworthy.

Three suggestions:

1.  Consider a person’s manner.  If he regularly gossips, breaks the confidence of others, and bad-mouths people, do not expect him to speak differently regarding you in your absence.

2.  At the very least, consider the reputation of another.  A person once said to me regarding a mutual acquaintance, “Do not tell him anything that you do not want repeated to others.”  That turned out to be very wise counsel.  On the other hand, I was recently advised regarding a mutual friend, “You know that you can confide in him.  So many of us do.”  He had earned a very good reputation.

3.  Express appreciation to those you have found to be trustworthy.  Such relationships are not to be taken for granted.  In a culture where trust is often broken, others might be encouraged to occasionally hear you express your appreciation for their trustworthiness.

When You Realize You are Out of Control

outofcontrolOne night I was driving home from my job at UPS.  It was about midnight and was raining. I was in college and was driving my father’s car, which I rarely drove.  As I recall, my car was in the shop being repaired.  I was on Stemmons Expressway (I-35) and going much too fast considering the rain.  At one point, the car began to hydroplane on the water surface.  I remember wondering how I would stop.  The car began to do a 360 on the expressway.  I wondered if I was going to get hit from behind.  Finally after turning around completely, the car came to a stop. I then slowly began to drive ahead again.

I had been totally out of control.

Reynolds Price, novelist and longtime English professor at Duke, spoke at the 1992 Founder’s Day at Duke and challenged his audience with some observations regarding many students.

But you’ll find other sights that breed concern. . . . walk your attentive self through the quads.  Stand at a bus stop at noon rush-hour; roam the reading rooms of the libraries in the midst of term and the panic of exams.  Lastly, eat lunch in a dining hall and note the subjects of conversation and the words employed in student discussion.  (I’m speaking mostly of undergraduates, but not exclusively.) 

Try to conceal your consternation at what is often the main theme of discourse — something less interesting than sex and God, the topics of my time.  If for instance you can eat a whole meal in a moderately occupied Duke dining hall without transcribing a certain sentence at least once, I’ll treat you to the legal pain reliever of your choice.  The sentence runs more or less like this, in male or female voice – - “I can’t believe how drunk I was last night.” 

Considering that the social weekends of many students now begin – - indeed are licensed by us to begin – - at midday on Thursday and continue through the morning hours of Monday (as they never did in the old days of “country club” Duke), maybe the sentence is inevitable – - at least in the bankrupt America we’re conspiring to nurture so lovingly and toward which we blindly, or passively anyhow, wave our students.  

“I can’t believe how drunk I was last night.”

Totally out of control.