Do You Need To Make A Point

Earlier this week I was having a conversation with someone about recent events. At several times during the conversation, I felt like there was a point I could make about what they were saying.  Fortunately, I decided not to, and just listened to where they were coming from.  In that circumstance, I think I made the right choice.

Speaking from my own observations and experienced, it seems like people are all over the spectrum with regard to what they think, how they’re dealing with the current myriad issues and how they’re being impacted by those issues.  There are so many opinions, world-views and stressors on people, and so many different ways people are handling them, that it’s unlikely you’ll find someone on the exact same place on the spectrum as you are.  I certainly haven’t.  As such, in our effort to make a point, we could easy turn a conversation into a divisive exchange without even meaning to.

I think it would serve us well to know when the time to make a point is, and when it would be more appropriate to compassionately listen to someone in order to better understand where they are coming from.

May we continually be able to discern which response is appropriate for the conversations we find ourselves in.

Informed Vs.Over Saturated

There’s so much going on in world and the US lately!  Compared to what was happening just 6 months ago, it feels like we’ve been transported and dropped off in a whole new world.  As a result, there is so much news coming at us every hour (or very often in real time) in an attempt to keep us informed.  While it’s good to be informed, it’s not good to be over saturated.

When I watch too much negative news, it starts to impact my attitude and my thinking.  It leaves me feeling weighted down.  I’m grateful that I know this about myself, so that I can monitor my news intake and stop watching once I’ve been informed, instead of continuing to watching to the point of over saturation.  It’s good to know my limit!

Do you know your oversaturation limit for negative news?  If not, pay attention to your attitude and outlook based on the amount of news your consuming.  If you too find yourself being weighted down by current events, perhaps throttle back on the consumption.  Who knows, you might be able to improve your outlook, and free up some time, by watching less news.

Last Time For Everything

This week a good friend from church told me that they’ll be moving to another state to restore an old house they’ll be living in.  This friend has a real knack for restoration, interior design, and overall leaving the world better than they found it, so I’m super excited for this adventure of theirs.

I’ve been thinking of the years we’ve spent together in the same Sunday school class, the fun we’ve had playing in the worship band, and the great conversations we’ve had over the years.  I also remember the often-spoken kind and encouraging words from this friend that have been a source of joy and comfort as we’ve traveled life together for several years.

There’s a song I’ve heard recently by country singer Brad Paisley titled, “Last Time for Everything”.  It’s about how good things transition away, and as they go, you experience them for the last time.  This song, and my friend’s move, again remind me that we’re to enjoy the people, places, things, and even the time of life we’re currently in, while we have it, because things transition.

I’m certain my friend and I will continue to stay in touch and will no doubt see each other again in the future.  And I’m also reminded that while good things transition out of our life, just as often, equally good things transition in.

The Meaning We Give It

When you hear a discouraging word or someone says something false or unkind about you, remember this:  those words only have the meaning you give them.

Unkind thoughts, words, or opinions of others are not an indictment or sentence someone else gets to place on you.  You are the one who decides what meaning, if any at all you give to those words.  If someone says that you’re, say, selfish, and you’re clearly not, you don’t have to be negatively impacted by theirs words or opinion.  You can decide that those words don’t ring true about you, and therefore have no meaning for you.  You are then free to let those words go and not carry them around with you.

If perhaps, in this scenario, you realize that you are indeed selfish, the meaning you give those words may be along the lines of agreement and that this is an area you’re going to seek to better yourself.  A rebuke of who you are is not the meaning you give them, but rather it’s a picture of something you’d like (you decide) to change about yourself.

We can also give positive meaning to words of encouragement or affirmation.  We can take these words to mean that we’re on track to being the person we’d like to become.

We are the ones who get to decide the meaning we give something.  It is not placed on us by others but determined by us alone.  What a privilege!

“Make every minute two:  one to experience it, one to savor it.”  ~Neal Peart

“Your gonna miss this.  You’re gonna want this back.  You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.”  ~Trace Atkins – You’re Gonna Miss This

I’ve been thinking about the passing of time lately.  Isn’t it amazing how quickly it goes by?  Consider the following scenarios:

You plan a vacation and eagerly look forward to it.  Before you know it, you’re actually experiencing it.  Then, almost overnight, it seems, the trip is a 5-year-old memory.

You and your new spouse are just starting your lives together.  You’ve got nothing but dreams for the future that you’re excitedly anticipating.  You can hardly wait to move from your current situation to the life you envision.  Before you know it, you’ve realized some of your dreams and you’re looking back at where you started with 2 thoughts:

  • That went fast!
  • Those were some good times!

Time’s march, at a 24-hour cadence, is steady and brisk.  When I was in basic training for the Army National Guard (several decades ago!  Like it was yesterday.)  I was amazed at how slow each single day went, yet how fast the weeks and months seemed to fly by.

This steady cadence reminds me to take time to enjoy the experiences I’m having as I’m having them because they’ll be memories (and soon old memories) before I know it.

Let’s make sure to makes sure to not only experience our moments, but to savor them as well.  They go so fast that it would be worth stretching them out as much as we can.

Honoring Others With Our Thinking

Have you ever asked someone for their input on a decision you were facing and received one of the following responses:

  • Maybe.
  • I don’t know.
  • It’s 50/50.

Those responses, when delivered as a complete answer, are completely useless and provide no value to the person asking for an opinion. They also reveal, of the person whose opinion is being sought, an unwillingness (or inability) to think critically and form an opinion.

When someone values our opinion enough to ask us for it, let’s honor them by turning on our wonderful brains, forming a thought, and offering it to them with the hopes that our opinion will aid them in the decision-making process they’re currently facing.

Unintentionally Training Others

How do you go about learning a new skill?  Usually, your training will involve many correct repetitions of the skill you’re attempting to master.  Through repetition, you can train yourself to become competent, if not excellent, in any skill you choose.  Repetition is a remarkably powerful training tool.

One thing we may not realize, is that we can also training others (often unintentionally) by what we repeatedly expose them to.  If we’re continuously on our phone, or have our face in front of a screen, whenever we’re with those close to us, what kind of message are we repeatedly sending them?  What are we “training” them to understand?

If we’re always checking our phone or interrupting those who are trying to have a conversation with us, make no mistake, we’re training them that they are not important enough to warrant our full attention.  We are training them to know that we will tap out of our interaction with them the moment something more exciting comes along.  We are training them that they really don’t matter much to us.  Regardless of what we may tell them, or actions are what will train them.

While it’s easy to get sloppy with regard to how we’re training others, it’s also easy to start changing our actions and behaviors to train those around us that they are indeed important and that they matter.  We can decide to train them to know that we care about them.

Consider you’re recent interactions with those close to you.  Through those actions, what have you been training other to understand?  If you don’t like the training you’ve been presenting, then intentionally change your behaviors to align with the training you’d like them to receive.

Celebrate All Year

I’m writing this week’s blog post on Friday February 14, Valentine’s day in the United States.  It’s a fun holiday where you acknowledge the love between you and your spouse or significant other.  As I was considering this holiday today, I got to thinking that several of our annual holidays should be observed every day of the year.

Think about it, what if we celebrated Valentine’s day every day.  What if the appreciation we showed for those we love was in the forefront of our mind every day, to the same degree it is on Valentine’s day?  No, I’m not saying you need to go out to dinner every night of the week, or come home with candy, flowers, or other gifts every single day.  I’m talking about acknowledging that appreciation thought our words and actions every day.  That would certainly mean more to those we love than limiting these actions to 1 day out of 365.

Thanksgiving is another one.  What if we thought about the people and things we are grateful for every day of the year?  Do you think that kind of thought might have an impact on your life?

Also, if you’re a Christian, shouldn’t Christmas and Easter be celebrated each day?  Again, not the gifts and Easter eggs every day, but rather the appreciation of what Jesus has done for you.  That’s worth appreciating every day!

Think about your favorite holidays, whether it’s one listed above or different one.  Then consider how you can implement what those holidays stand for into your every-day life, because they’re worth celebrating more than once a year.

They Can’t Pray If They Don’t Know

WARNING:  This week’s post about prayer and faith.

On Thursday I had a scheduled medial appointment at the hospital.  Nothing major, but more than just your regular visit to the doctor.  As I was about an hour away from heading to the hospital, I realized that I hadn’t told my mom about my appointment today.  It wasn’t that I hadn’t told her about it that jumped out to me.  Rather it was the thought that if she didn’t know I was going in today, she wouldn’t know to be praying for my appointment.  I immediately called.  She’d be praying.  I instantly felt better.

As someone who believes in Jesus, prayer is important to me.  Not just praying for myself and others, but to know that others are praying for me when I’m facing a challenge.  I’m encouraged and filled with peace when I know others are praying for me.  Yet I was reminded Thursday that I need to let people know what’s going on in my life so that they can pray for me.  How else would they know if I didn’t tell them?

I thought about how I’d feel if the roles were reversed.  What if I had found out, after the fact, that my mom, or anyone else I cared about, had gone through something significant and hadn’t told me.  My first thought would have been, “It would have been nice to know so I could have been praying for you.”

Prayer is a way that others can contribute to your life.  It’s a way for them to intercede, to petition God on your behalf.  Why would I want to withhold that opportunity from someone?

Regardless of where you are with prayer and faith, if you’re facing a challenge, or going through something, let those who care about you know.  You’ll be blessing them with the opportunity to go through life with you.  They’ll be glad you let them know.

Work As A Team

This week my wife and I have been working on several daily life decisions ranging from getting our next cat, to updating our insurance, to future spending plans.  While these topics have created lots of discussion, I have come away feeling extremely grateful that we are both on the same team.

Through all the discussions and decisions we’ve had and made, we’ve both participated with the mindset that we are on the same team and are heading in the same direction… together.  I’m reminded this past week how much I appreciate working as a team with her.  Even when we have our differences, we understand that we both share the same last name, which makes us a team.  We also realize that teams perform better when they work together.

So who’s on your team?  How have you been well working with them lately?  If you haven’t been performing very well as a team, perhaps it’s time to decide to start rowing in the same direction to achieve your common goals.  If your team has been performing well, be sure to let your teammate know how much you appreciate them.