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The Friend – Henri Nouwen

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
Henri J.M. Nouwen (The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey)

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Categories: Relationships

Whom Have I In Heaven But You

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

If we love a human being and do not love God,

we demand of him every perfection and every rectitude,

and when we do not get it, we become cruel and vindictive;

we are demanding of a human being that which he or she cannot give.

There is only one Being who can satisfy the last aching abyss

of the human heart  and that is the Lord Jesus Christ.

Why our Lord is apparently so severe regarding

every human relationship is because he

knows that every relationship not

based on loyalty to Himself

will end in disaster.

[Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (July 30), 154]

Psalm 73:25-26

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.



I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up

August 18, 2010 3 comments

Our God is a Creator Genius!  In this video we see that even in creation we see one helping the other!

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up! (Ecclesiastes 4.9,10)

Handling Toxic and Critical People

August 10, 2010 2 comments
[Leslie Vernick is a is a licensed counselor with over 25 years of experience helping individuals, couples, and families.  She is a national speaker and author with expertise on the subjects of personal and spiritual growth, marriage improvement, conflict resolution, depression, child abuse, and domestic violence. Her new book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, enables people to identify the root issues of dysfunction and stop destructive patterns in any relationship.]
Leslie has a free newsletter (this posting came from her newsletter)  you can sign up for and also has a blog: Enriching the Relationships That Matter Most.
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We all have encounters with difficult people who leave us rattled and shaken. A co-worker undermines us in front of our boss; our friend puts us down and says she was “just kidding;” our spouse rages and then turns everything around to make us think that it’s our fault.

Most of us would prefer to minimize our contact with people like this but sometimes it’s just not possible. We may work with them, be married to them, or have some other connection that keeps us in regular contact with toxic individuals. For a long time Christians have been taught to forbear and forgive.   While Biblical in essence, most of us aren’t exactly sure how to live it out in real life.

We know that Jesus tells us that we’re to love our enemies and pray for those who mistreat us but actually doing it is much more challenging. The apostle Paul counsels us in these instances not to be overcome with evil but instead, to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). But honestly, there are times when evil feels stronger and we are not sure how to stop it from getting the best of us.

Below are 5 specific steps I have found helpful in putting these Biblical truths into practice, especially when dealing with a toxic or destructive person.

1.  Press Pause:  As soon as you feel that poisonous dart, take a deep breath and pray for God’s help. The words or behaviors of another person have just knocked you off balance and will infect you with its toxic effects if you don’t quickly apply an anecdote.

2. Don’t panic and overreact or be passive and under react. Stay calm and don’t fall for their bait. Try not to take what they have done or said personally (which is very tempting to do). Remember, the way someone treats you, whether it be good or bad, really has little to do with you. It’s reveals something about who they are.

3.  Ask yourself this question:  What in this present moment do I need to learn (or change) in order to become the person I want to become? Here are a few examples of things I have found I needed after I asked myself this question.

Courage
Humility
Generosity
To speak the truth in love
To set firmer boundaries
Patience
Not to worry so much what others think of me
Let go of my desire to make everyone happy
Not to let this person get the best of me or to make
me act crazy

Believe me, it is very tempting in the moment to defend yourself, feel responsible for someone elses feelings, become totally intimidated and overwhelmed, or strike back with your own attack. None of these responses will help you move forward with a toxic person. However, God does promise to use these painful moments for our good. Therefore, learn what you can and let go of the rest.

4.  Teach yourself to respond out of who you want to be rather than how you feel in the moment. We already know how to do this when we act responsibly and get of bed to go to work even when we want to sleep in or when we patiently work with our child on their homework even though we’d rather be doing anything else.
If you must respond to a provocative situation, speak calmly, truthfully and firmly especially when you have to set a limit or say “no”. Refuse to engage in arguing, defending yourself, or circular conversations that go nowhere.

5. Practice (and this takes time) looking at this difficult/destructive person in a different way than you have in the past. Instead of meditating on his or her faults or sin against you, search for her goodness, his humanness, or his/her woundedness. When we can see a person in this new way, it’s much easier to allow God to fill us with HIs love and compassion for this pitiful person who would be so blind as to treat us (or anyone) in such a sinful way.

Having this change in perspective doesn’t excuse the toxic person or give him or her license to continue to do damage, but it does help us not to judge and empowers us to forgive him/her, even if we can’t reconcile the relationship. We can honestly pray God’s best for this person and leave him/her in His capable hands.

We all encounter evil situations and difficult and destructive people, but by practicing these five steps, we can learn to overcome evil’s toxic effects in us with good.

Categories: Relationships