Monday, June 28, 2010

Talking Too Much, Saying Too Little

Prov. 29:20-Do you see a man who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for him.

A long time ago I decided to put my tongue to wise use. See, I'm a communicator. I love to talk. I've been told I have the "gift of gab" and yada, yada but its no good to always talk and never say anything. Who wants to be around a motor mouth?  But we live in a loquacious society full of talk, talk, talk that is saying not a thing.  So, I began to study communication, I committed my tongue to a 30 day fast and began to study what the Lord said about talking. He says in James 3:2  if I control my tongue, I can control my whole body. I wanted that kind of self-control where I was no longer trying to un-ring a bell, I just wouldn't say stuff I shouldn't say in the first place! What I learned astounded me. What I observed while studying people and how we communicate/talk astounded me more so. Most of us talk, we inflict our opinion and way of thinking over onto others but rarely do we let anything in. Few people feel listened to. Heard. In fact, most get into a communication box and stay there. Their style of communication is the same no matter who they're talking too. They do no homework in observing others when they're talking to see if they're even tuned in. Most people are just showing off verbally and its those people who are like "wonk-wonk-wonkwonk" Charlie Brown's teacher in my ear. Men,heres a little tip because I deal with this issue in coaching women all the'd do well to listen more to an over-communicating woman.  Yes. Listen to her more even in the midst of her talkativeness. Tune in and let her rip! You have no idea the lengths an emotionally out of control woman can go through to be heard. I'm sure if you live with a contentious (talkative, combative) woman you know better than I can tell you. Let me submit to you if you learn to listen to her so she feels you hear her you just may get the peace and quiet you seek. Lead by example and see if it works. Has telling her she talks too much and shut up worked?

Submitting your tongue, how you communicate requires a turn against the tide of this society. You have to be willing to go silent. In this "you're going to hear what I got to say" world that is difficult at best, next to impossible at worst. We are a society of blaring noise. Always, always talking, very rarely communicating. In the interest of promoting good communication skills I've developed a technique that interrupts and frustrates people but I learned it to keep people from repetitively communicating the same garbage that I'm just not wanting to listen to. As a good listener, I'm very careful who/ what I listen to. Its amazing how many of those poor communicators whine back to me "but, I want you to listen to me, you keep talking." Its only then I get to tell them they fail to realize I'm a good listener people like to talk to and as such they've told me what they're about to say like 20 times now and I'm tired of hearing it. I want them to know I heard them the first twenty times so now can we communicate? Can I offer you my perspective? Will you even listen or am I to be  silent recepticle to your repetitiveness? 

In this mobile technology world we can say a lot to each other any time day or night. This world would be better if we could learn this simple listen is not to hear. Hearing requires some hard work. You can't passively accept information just because its spoken or written. Good listening requires you to silence your thoughts, still your tongue and take in what someone is saying to you--seeking to understand and to then be heard yourself. Beloved, today, let's determine to be better communicators. Give someone your listening ear and shut mouth today-- a good gift to give indeed!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Acceptance- A Pathway Through Pain

James 1:2: "Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy."

We hate pain. As humans we truly are surprised when life hurts and we are in a rush to make pain and problems go away, we DO NOT WANT pain to linger but the Bible says we are to "count our troubles as joy." In one of my earlier blogs I wrote about the Pathway of Pain and received not just a few responses but hundreds. There are a lot of us in silent desperation putting on a brave face but still in a lot of pain---even believers. Not the least bit insensitive to the fact that pain is relevant and whatever you're going through is YOUR go through I want to share something that I believe is a great need to speed you along the pathway of pain and that is ACCEPTANCE. For some reason, we associate this word with defeat, loss, giving up or complacency but that's not the type of acceptance I'm talking about. I encourage you not only to speak up about your pain as real as it is but also to go beyond that to acknowledging what is right now in spite of your pain you are still blessed. "If you're struggling you're not defeated," says Mike Murdock. See, hating it (pain), desiring to be free from it does not lessen or make pain go away. Neither does self-medication in the form of drugs, sex, alcohol, shopping or eating. Even the anti-depressants taken merely put a coping mechanism in place. It does not address the root of your pain. Acceptance does. It changes focus, and if you're falling helps you to dive--to a change of focus, to a counting of blessings, to a moving forward, to a relief of the daily ache of impatience.

Clearly and compassionately I want to share with you that I know  acceptance well and that this word is  true because even as a believer I am acquainted with excruciating pain and can preach from knowledge- I have experienced loss and grief-losing a parent (in fact I lost both my birth father and my step-father); my only child (my beautiful son Durrell), all my grandparents on both sides of my family, friends who thrust me into a front row seat to watch them descend into the merciless depth of a slow, incapacitating, painful death from disease despite prayer and fasting for healing from their illness, I've been abused and watched those I love beaten and abused right in front of my eyes; I'm divorced despite both being Christians, financial calamity and loss of employment, I've been deceived and lied to by those I thought I was close to and could trust and the list goes on. Life has hurt me to the core so I can tell you what I'm saying in good faith and confidence. Truly, I have found when God calls a messenger (and I am His mouthpiece) your message, as Beth Moore teaches, is first and foremost "meticulously tested on the messenger." You can accept what's going on in your life, the right here and right now reality of it all in spite of its pain. Stop flailing around with pain-- all your striving will not make it lessen or blur its clear view. I'm not asking you to make peace with it either. I'm saying don't try to make it less than it is but please don't make it more than it is either!  This too shall pass. You are blessed with whatever you can grab a hold of  and count as a blessing, don't look hard because no matter how bad things are you can find a blessing ---acceptance says this: if someone you love is sick you're blessed you have an opportunity to show love and be a care giver of whom Christ says "a servant is the greatest of all", now I want to caution you to be a wise caregiver-- for God's sake don't burn out but accepting that this is your season to serve is a good thing to do. And God willing they should die (if they're a believer death is the ultimate healing and they are in the presence of the Lord) you're blessed in being able to touch and test eternity...death clarifies and puts you in touch with immortality and you'd best be aware that this life is not all there is; if you're broke and/or unemployed (as I like to say "temporarily out of cash"  trust me I have survived once on $2.95 for two weeks facing eviction with NO FOOD, TRANSPORTATION, electricity, cell and cable cut off--I know B-R-O-K-E) you have a chance to not depend on yourself but to depend on God and be humble, ask and receive help and you'll be blessed to see others rise to fill the need--so true in my own life and I'm so grateful to know God motivates His own to do things your own family won't do.

That's just two examples of painful life circumstances that you can infuse acceptance into. Do you see the power of acceptance in changing your focus and lightening your burdens? Its a process to start right where you are that will lift the heaviest of hearts. Remember, "A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing" (Proverbs 17:22).  No matter the crack in your universe--and life shifts and slips feel like your whole world spins out of orbit, just remember  acceptance will put things in a better perspective. I know its true. You won't just survive or make it through. Acceptance will help you climb, go over, through or around the pathway of pain with faith, mind and heart intact.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

At the Bitter Mercy of a Bad Mood...

Phil. 4:8-
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things"

I annoy people. Its not intentional. Its just they are often displeased by my intolerance of negative speaking, thinking or actions. Some despise my sunny disposition, especially my early morning riotousness, but Beloved, I refuse to be at the mercy of a bad mood EVER; not from myself and certainly not from anyone else. I've even had a client say to me " Cheryl, you and all your positive thinking crap is annoying. It works for you but not for me. I'm just a negative thinking person." I had to agree with them (they are genuinely sour with a low energy, poor disposition pretty much everyday I coach them).  I offered them a solution and they take a hold of it occasionally (and always say how much better their day goes and how they feel:). This is a way of life that I do NOT deviate from much and its simple-- I memorized this scripture (Philippians 4:8) and choose to think on and let in my ears/eyes and out of my mouth only things that are right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Not everything meets this criteria and I can't avoid it, but as a rule of thumb if it doesn't fall in those categories I confront it or am silent to it and don't let it in!

I fight negativity like you would a cold...with prevention and cure.  Nobody in their right mind wants a cold, yet we will sit under the most negative of things and allow it to infect us just the same as a cold would invade the body if you sit around a person with one. Want to know exactly how you put yourself at the mercy of a bad mood? 

  •  We listen to it...if the music you consistently listen to is low life, bottom-feeding, degrading to women, uninspiring and just plain awful then you're taking that mindset in-- even if you think its just the beat you like, the lyrics are there feeding your mind. I frequently tune out the lyrics to most of the heavy beat music I run to but I do notice my aggression rises when I listen to it, which is why I like it for exercise.  When I take the chance and listen to the lyrics I'm frequently shocked by what I hear. I then drop the most egregious songs from my playlist, choosing instead to go old school or choose a more inspirational tune. I just don't need the negative. Neither do you!

  • We speak it...complaining, murmuring, rehearsing an incident blow by blow and then we regurgitate it ad nauseam, subjecting everyone who has hearing to hear it over and over and over... this type of communication is so draining both for the speaker and the listener! Men often accuse women of this level of communication because when emotional we do tend to over-communicate and men will under-communicate, causing conflict. Whether we like it or not, negative communication is the most infectious conduit for a bad mood! When I'm in a not so great mood I remind myself to stay silent. Its so much better than trying to take back what I say or affecting the people I love or work with.

  • We see it...this one is the worst for me, I'm a very visual person! I can't even watch scary movies, they disturb my spirit to its core. But turning on the tv, picking up a magazine, getting on Facebook or other social media sites and our eyes behold a whole lotta negative. A very long time ago I determined to combat this I would set my eyes first thing on the word of God and on an uplifting positive image--right now at my desk I have a picture of Maya Angelou and quotes for my season in life right now (one is from Island Company and says Quit your job, Buy a ticket, Get a tan, Fall in love, Never return...another says "don't treat me any different than you would the queen" which reminds me I'm a queen and deserve to be treated well at all times).

  • We're friends with Grandma use to say "birds of a feather flock together" and as the bible teaches in Corinthians 15:33  "Don't be fooled by those who say such things, for "bad company corrupts good character." You attract that which you think you deserve and if you're akin to your bad mood and sour, negative disposition guess what? Those are the very people you will attract. Its a law of nature and true whether you acknowledge it or not. Show me who you hang out with and it'll show me you who you are. Dwelling and calling home a place with a negative, bitter person will invariably affect even the most positive thinking person. You can't abandon those you are married to or gave birth to (that wouldn't be right:) but you can not let their disposition invade yours. It takes a lot of work but it can be done. And tolerance of any outside negative influences if you live with negativity is just plain insult for injury. If you can choose...RUN don't walk away from negativity. If you have to live with it, fight letting it in with every fiber of your being-whatever you need to do, do it! 

Beloved, you never have to be at the bitter mercy of a bad mood. If you would give it a try perhaps you can infuse positivity in your environment. Its true as true can be...if you change your thinking, you can change your life.