Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Responsibility

I feel as though I spend way too much time seeking help.  I listen to music and advertisements for a half-hour on the phone waiting to talk to a real person, only to repeat this frustrating annoyance two days later because the initial person I talked to never did their job in fixing the problem.  I call the bank to correct an error I dealt with a week before but it had never been processed.  I continually have to repeat my case to large companies because the left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing.

I wait for a worker three days in a row who either doesn’t show up or calls with some excuse for his delay.  He only did half of his job when he finally came and walked out with an expensive part that we had paid for.  (He claims he doesn’t have it even though we noticed it was gone five minutes after he left.) 

What is going on in this world?  No one wants to be responsible.  Very few are committed to doing the best job they can.  We live in a world where customer service is almost a lost art.  More and more people seem to be satisfied with doing a halfway job.

This disease, I’m afraid, has spread into marriages.  Couples give up at the slightest level of discomfort.  It’s always the other person’s fault.  No one takes responsibility for their own mistakes.  Divorce is an easier word to digest these days than the word commitment.  What ever happened to commitment in marriage? 

I suppose some of the blame falls on us baby boomers.  We spoiled our children and taught them that the world revolves around them.  They can do whatever they want to do.  And where has that thinking gotten us?  We’ve become a world with no rights or wrongs – it’s whatever works for the individual.  We’ve lost all our values and morals with no more rules or guidelines. (Except when we want to publically talk about God – there are many regulations for that.)

No wonder divorce is popular now.  We live in a disposable society.  If it doesn’t work, throw it away.  (It often costs more to have things fixed.)  If you don’t like it, get rid of it.

Forgive me the glumness today, but the media also brings me down.  I don’t watch the news on television anymore, but I may also have to give up Facebook.  I see too much there that disturbs my soul.  (Feeling even worse now – I just remembered my conviction about complaining on last week’s post.  L)  I almost want to quit dealing with people.

But then, wouldn’t I be like all the others who can’t seem to see a project, a relationship or a promise through to the finish?  Why does it seem that our society doesn’t want to experience hardship or do the necessary work, yet we seem unhappier and more uncertain than any other time I can remember? 

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”

“Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”

It sounds to me like we will never grow to maturity and completeness as long as we don’t finish what we began.  I would say that we would also never know satisfaction and contentment, either.  How can you when you don’t attempt to work through problems and set goals in your life?

We are all put on Earth for a purpose.  I’m afraid that very few people achieve their God-given purpose.  It takes a lot of work and sacrifice to do so.  Those characteristics are dying away in this world.

When we become lazy and lose motivation to finish something we’ve started, that attitude invades other areas of our lives, even our marriage.  We then miss the plans God has for our life and don’t realize the importance of achieving goals.

I think of the apostle Paul in Philippians 3:14.  “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  While he spent a lot of undeserved time in prison, Paul didn’t complain and wallow in self-pity – he wrote letters to his apostles which became books of the New Testament.  The most difficult time in his life produced documents that changed the lives of many, many people throughout history – me being one of them.


I want to keep running the race towards my goal and not let the ways of the world interfere.  That should also be our goal in marriage – to achieve the healthy marriage that God intended for us.  It takes work but the rewards are heavenly.  I choose to stay responsible.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Complaining

Before I start with this week’s blogpost, I want to answer a question from last week’s post.  I had asked where the rule came from that said “The toilet seat must be kept down.” 

I went to a rehearsal last week and some of the guys were discussing just this topic, and so I asked my question to them.  Lo and behold, I found an answer.  Without hesitation, one of the guys immediately chimed in, “It comes from a wife who says that since she is the one who cleans the toilet – I will keep the toilet seat down or she will shoot me.”  And there you have it!  (Why have I never thought of that after all these years of marriage??)

Now on to this week's blogpost:

The past few weeks of my life have been a roller coaster ride bigger than I’ve experienced in a very long time.  My emotions have gone from one extreme to the next and circumstances have ranged from miserable to unbelievably amazing.  You would think that by now I should be able to transition a lot easier from mountain top to valley and back, but it’s not happening as quickly as I would have hoped.  I really despise being human some times.

I was in such a low the other day (obviously not one of my ‘unbelievably amazing’ days) that I decided to write a letter to express my emotions. I was mad at the world and my husband.  I have a close relative that I share all the good and bad in my life and intended to vent to her via email.  I plotted out my writings in the middle of the night while sleep eluded me.  The more I thought about it the lower I felt. 

When I awoke the next morning, I went through my usual routine of feeding the dogs, making coffee and checking my email before my quiet time with God.  I was about to begin my verbal assault in the form of this letter but decided to read my devotional first.  I wondered if I should even share my thoughts with anyone much less put them in writing.  Was this the best way for me to deal with these negative thoughts that were eating away at my soul?

It came to me, “I’ll see what ‘Jesus Calling’ says today" (the devotional I’m currently reading).  Maybe that will determine if I should write this letter.  Here is what it said:

      “You have been on a long, uphill journey, and your energy is almost spent.  Though you have faltered at times, you have not let go of My hand.  I am pleased with your desire to stay close to Me.  There is one thing, however, that displeases Me: your tendency to complain.  You may talk to Me as much as you like about the difficulty of the path we are following.  I understand better than anyone else the stresses and strains that have afflicted you.  You can ventilate safely to Me because talking with me tempers your thoughts and helps you see things from My perspective.
      Complaining to others is another matter altogether.  It opens the door to deadly sins such as self-pity and rage.  Whenever you are tempted to grumble, come to Me and talk it out.  As you open up to Me, I will put My thoughts in your mind and My song in your heart.”
                                                                                                 From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young

Oh…my…gosh.  I felt as though God was sitting on the couch right next to me reprimanding me like a disappointed Father.  Every word from that devotional was perfectly designed for me that day.  I, indeed, have been on a long, uphill journey for quite some time now.  I feel like my life has been in limbo since my husband retired from the Air Force eight years ago. (I won’t go into the details because I have learned my lesson now about complaining.  Maybe someday when it’s all behind me, and I can tell the story with laughter!)


Those words spoke to my soul and convicted me of how poorly I had been handling my circumstances. I chose to never voice my complaints again except to God.  He got my attention that day, and my attitude has changed.  Now - I have to keep it that way!  

Although it momentarily feels good to express your negative thoughts, complaining gets you nowhere.  It only magnifies the issue and gives you justification in your feelings when you find someone to empathize with you - causing you to hang on to it longer. What may have started as a minor infraction can quickly become a major issue if  complaints are vocalized enough.  Divorce begins with a small complaint - like not putting the toilet seat up or down. Learn to express yourself without complaining. Take it to God before it becomes a roadblock in your marriage or in your life.



Monday, October 6, 2014

Divorce Begins with the Toilet

I spoke at a women’s event last week, and I mentioned how we need to deal with the little things of marriage or take the chance that they may turn into insurmountable problems that lead to divorce.  The little things are the beginning of divorce - like toilet seats and toothpaste tubes – when not resolved.

As I watched all the women shaking their heads “yes”, I told them that sounds like a great title for my next book, “Divorce Begins with the Toilet.”  (Hmm.  MY husband didn’t find this nearly as humorous as I did.)

Every new bride is forced into reality the first time she bottoms out in the toilet, half-asleep, in the middle of the night.  Her husband neglected to put the seat down.  Thus begins the decay of happily-ever-after as she ponders, “If he really loved me he’d remember to put the toilet seat down!”  Most men don’t have a clue why this is such an issue for us ladies.  My practical husband says, “Can’t you look first?”

In defense of men I have to ask, what written rule says the toilet seat needs to be down all the time?  I would imagine in fraternity houses the seats are usually up.  (Of course they also need to be sat upon once in a while).  Maybe the obvious answer would be to always close the lid after use, then the next user will know what to expect. 

The point is that we don’t always deal with these small defenses because they seem so – small.  If we don’t figure out just how to deal with them, what do we do when the big issues come around?  It’s great practice to come to a compromise on something that seems insignificant. 

In my marriage, I’m a bit neater than Rick. (Okay, a LOT neater.)  I’ve had to learn to lower my standards of cleanliness while he has raised his over the years.  He still tells me, though, “Can’t you just step over my underwear on the floor like I do?”

If we don’t deal with the small issues, they will compound into frustration and anger that masks itself as a bigger issue.  These issues continue to gather into a large snowball of, what may seem to be, insurmountable problems.  A wayward child, a meddling in-law, financial difficulties or any marital setback becomes the straw that breaks the camel’s back and leads a couple to divorce.  Their answer for their split - irreconcilable differences.  Reconcile your differences while they are still small.  They WILL build up into a mountain of resentment if you don’t.  A small pile of frustration is easily fixed while a large mountain of anger can seem undefeatable.  To many, it is easier to call it quits than to tear down that mountain.

So how do you deal with the little things?  You need to talk about them when you are both in a rational state.  Remember, never say never.  Ladies, don’t say “You never put the toilet seat down.”  Instead, it would be easier for you to say, “It is frightening to fall into the toilet in the middle of the night because it’s dark and I’m half-asleep and the seat is up.  Would you please try to put it down when you’re finished, especially at nighttime?”  Or, you could both agree to keep the lid closed when not in use.  That way you are both being pro-active and considerate of the other’s needs. Find a compromise.

When we do have little issues that we can’t seem to agree about, maybe one person has to back off and sacrifice their will. For example, if it drives you crazy how your husband gets his toothpaste from the top of the tube rather than the bottom, maybe you should just get your own tube. Is it really worth the frustration and the stress it causes in your relationship?  We are all different, and in marriage you have to be aware of those differences and learn to compromise.

Ephesians 5:21 says “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

In marriage, when we put our spouse’s needs ahead of our own (submission), the little things no longer become issues.