Sunday, January 27, 2013


A while back I was called in to intervene when a family member was having a meltdown. The situation required immediate action and I had to drop everything and respond. Ultimately I came through (what a man), but I dealt with the person too harshly, and afterwards I felt guilt. So what happened?

In reality I was scared and anxious, but I also was feeling somewhat angry because this was a repeat situation. I needed to make a quick decision and take control. I was unsure of what might be needed, but it was up to me to figure it out. So I overreacted.

The intensity of your feelings does not justify negative behavior.
The intensity of your feelings should direct your positive action.

It is common to justify more extreme behavior because of the intensity of feelings. But just because we are feeling deeply does not give us permission to cross good boundaries. Our feelings may not even reflect reality. They may just come from our perspective. At that point we are simply being judgmental and lacking love. Instead the intensity should be a big caution sign that you may be approaching a dangerous situation that needs careful consideration. 

What could I have done that would have had a better outcome? I think I could have done a few things that would have helped.

  • Self soothe. I could have engaged in some positive self talk as I was driving over to meet the situation. I could have taken deep breaths and calmed myself to the best of my ability. I could have been aware that my anxiety would only add to the already anxious atmosphere. I could have tried to be the least anxious person in the room. I could pray.

  • I could have resisted my impulsive first actions and slowed myself down a bit. Even in the midst of the situation there was time to think rationally. There were options available that I needed to consider before I took a potentially harmful step.

  • I could have taken positive control, even while feeling out of control. I could have been firm and directive rather than emotionally reactive. I could have considered the other person’s feelings rather than mine alone. Kindness goes a long way in a tense situation.

Have you ever been financially stressed, then made an impulsive decision?
Have you ever been frustrated with a child, then overreacted?
Have you ever had performance anxiety and spent time worrying rather than preparing?
Have you ever been in a fight with someone you love and said things you wish you could take back?
Have you ever become mad while driving and engaged in dangerous behavior?
Have you ever crossed sexual boundaries because of the intensity of your feelings at the moment?

I could create a really long list, but I’m sure you get the idea. I would love for readers to respond with their own stories in the comment box below.

As always, you can link to this blog, share this blog or comment on this blog. And thanks for taking the time to read it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Having A Yes Face

This morning I walked around the lobby area of our church before the doors for the service were opened. I like to do that and see who might be alone or look new or lost and try to connect with them as a way of extending a welcome. If you have been new to something like a church or event you know the feeling.

What makes it more likely that you will be noticed and welcomed if you are in this situation? I like to call it having a “yes face” – a concept I once heard from a pastor. I believe it was Chuck Swindoll.

What is a “yes face”?

It is a face that is worn by people who seem to be unable to suppress a smile. These people appear to be thinking lovely thoughts, seeing wonderful things, and smelling delightful aromas. 

When you observe these people they exhibit certain characteristics.

·         Approachable – you get the sense that if you approach them you will not be interrupting or annoying them. They will make time for you. They make eye contact and display an easy posture.

·         Emotionally Available – you expect that they will not look past you, but will try to connect with you and get to know you. You do not perceive an aura of defensiveness around them.

·         Others Focused – they seem to be interested in what is going on around them and who is present.

What does a “no face” look like?

  • Pinched – brows furrowed, worried, angry or anxious. There may be a frown or an “almost frown” ready to break out at any moment. They may look like they perpetually smell 3-day-old fish.

  • Self-absorbed – they seem to be in their own world and there is no room for anyone else and therefore ….

  •  Unapproachable – Their demeanor signals “Leave me alone.”

Sadly, I have too often seen a “no face” on divorcees and others who have gone through painful experiences. It is not their faults, but it works against them. Often they are not even aware that this is what they are projecting to the world. But they are more likely to feel isolated and not know why. 

I believe that both faces are an external reflection of what is going on internally. When we cultivate joy and peace and forgiveness and optimism it will leak out of us naturally. But when we nurse bitterness and fear and negativity, that is likely to leak out of us as well.

Take a look in the mirror. What do you imagine people see? Is there a ready smile on your lips and eyes that sparkle? Or do you look upset, scared or apathetic?

For those who wish to be included, and especially for those singles that are looking to connect with the opposite sex this is something that needs to be mastered. The best way we can do this is by being present and aware when we are around people – and to care for our heart when we aren’t. Feed yourself the goodness of God and let it drip from you at all times.

Job 29:24   When I smiled at them, they scarcely believed it; the light of my face was precious to them.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Being down with a terrible, nasty cold (dramatic, aren’t I) for a couple of weeks gave me an opportunity to reflect and feel gratitude. Gratitude? Yes, gratitude.

I realized what a gift health is.

Normally I have no trouble engaging my imagination and doing some world-class dreaming and planning. But the cold made this feel more like a chore than a delight.

Sleep. All I wanted to do was sleep, but it was hard to get enough. Although I spent lots of time on my back, the deep rest never came. I feel for people who never get enough even while they are healthy because of various reasons.

I like food with a lot of flavor. The cold took away most of it and I lost my appetite. Nan had to almost force food down me. She would often say “Feed a cold, feed a cold.” What a gift good smells, good flavors and good taste is.

Waking up with energy is a real joy. I like getting up in the morning and looking forward to the day. I missed church because I had no ability to muster up the energy and I didn’t want to infect my friends. I missed conversations and connecting and hugs and laughter and singing. I missed my friends.

So why is the title of this post “Kindness”?

I am most grateful for the kindness that Nan showed me while I was sick. It’s not easy to nurse someone back to health. Sick people can be grumpy and demanding. They aren’t good companions some of the time. The things that I normally do, Nan had to do. But she did them cheerfully. Nan serves me well all the time, but I was especially aware of the kindness with which she does it when I was sick.

This is often the missing element in long term relationships. There is a lack of friendliness and gentleness and playfulness. We are more likely to encounter irritation, coldness or apathy than kindness in our daily interactions. This seems to be gradual erosion that happens when we are not intentional in keeping the relationship “current”. Unprocessed hurts will build up into resentments and we will stop trying or caring to keep a warm connection.

The stresses and busyness of daily life will also numb us out and steal our joy and make cheerful exchanges feel more like a burden. Often there are not enough hours in the day to carve out sufficient (or any) “me time”, where we replenish our emotional batteries. But even random hugs and a few kind words will go a long way to maintain a friendly bond.

Proverbs 16:24 (NLT)
Kind words are like honey — sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hopes and Dreams

In an earlier post I talked about a marital mission being a great way to connect a couple though a shared purpose. How exactly do you find a mission? I think one way is by sharing your dreams; the kind you have when you are awake.

Our imagination is a powerful tool. It may be heavy on the fantasy side most of the time, but it also includes possibilities. I think as we enter this New Year it is a wonderful time to talk about our hopes and dreams.

Nan and I love to talk about life options. We spend time dreaming together about all sorts of ways we could direct our life energy. We talk about places we could go, what our next counseling project should be, where we would like to spend our retirement years and what we would be doing to stay connected and productive.

Will we accomplish all the things we dream about? I sure hope not. We’d be exhausted. But I have no doubt that we will see some of our dreams come to fruition. But there is something else wonderful that happens – we build intimacy as a couple. There are things that we only share with each other during these times. It is a significant way that I get to know Nan deeper and become known by her in return.

The Bible says in Proverbs 13:12 (NLT)

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life."

In the midst of tough times we have to have hope. One way of having hope is imagining a better future and then talking about it – and then being active in pursuing anything that would contribute to that better tomorrow.

What if your circumstances are not going to get better? Where is the hope?

Our hope then is to change our attitude towards the things we cannot control and to look for any positive moments along the way. We begin to take joy in the simple things that under different circumstances we might have missed or ignored.  

Ultimately, for those who are followers of Christ, there is hope in the certainty of heaven that awaits, and a release from all earthly pain and suffering.

Do you have a hard time dreaming? Are you afraid to have hope? Do you believe that God is trustworthy?

Psalm 39:7 (NLT) And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.

Psalm 119:114 (NLT) You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope.