(Flashback Friday)Relationally Speaking

Still so true it’s ridiculous!

Had a conversation recently with someone who is more of an “introvert”.  In other words, they need time alone to recharge; without alone time, they cannot function at their best.  She and I were chatting – and I should disclose that this conversation took place via private message on Facebook – and she made a statement that I’ve heard before – “I know you find it fun to hang out with other people and that’s cool.”

Fun.

Sure.  I gain enjoyment from interacting with other people in a casual way.

But it’s SOOOOO much more than that.

The internet is full of articles explaining introverts; they feel the need to defend their need to withdraw from the “madding crowd” from time to time.  I get it.  Believe me, I get it.  I have a sister who has always been like that.  I also have a child who needs serious amounts of alone time to function at her best.

And I am completely the opposite.

I NEED meaningful interaction with other human beings to thrive.  I cannot function at my best if I have been saddled with large quantities of alone time.

I’m not talking about the shallow “Did you find everything okay?” type conversation you have with a cashier.  Or the “How are you?” to which we always answer “I’m good.”  I’m talking about meaningful, share my dreams, talk about what makes me laugh, share what inspires me, type of conversation.

Ironically, I can psych myself out of calling up friends to chat or to plan a get-together.  The need for meaningful interaction – and that can come in the form of a fabulously intense belly laugh kind of evening – is so powerful that I’m worried I’ll screw it up.  Or that those I try to plan an outing with will turn me down in favor of someone/something they like better.

And I’ve learned, from talking to others like me, that I’m not unique in that fear.

So you have a group of people that need significant interaction with others yet who are afraid to reach out to others to get that interaction.

The end result of that is pretty predictable at this point in my life – if I’ve gone without interaction for awhile, I can get SUPER chatty once an opportunity presents itself.  And I know I’m not the only extroverted person who behaves in such a way.  If we’ve gone without a chance to recharge our “emotional batteries” in awhile, we’ll take ridiculous advantage of the situations that do arise.

I guess what I’m saying is fairly simple – where an introvert needs space and time away from others on a regular basis so that he or she can function at his or her very best, I need exactly the opposite.

For the relationally motivated in your life, the easiest thing you can do to help them stay “fully functional” is to be available on a regular basis for regular interaction with you.  Trust me.  You’ll both appreciate how much more emotionally balanced they are.

Reblogged: It Takes Effort

Nothing terribly profound in what I’m about to say.  It’s just something I’ve been reminded of lately.  Here it is – all relationships take effort.  I’m not just talking about marriage although that is probably the most popular focus of such a statement.  It’s also true of all the other relationships in our lives.

Want to stay close to your parents or siblings after you grow up and move on with your life?  Put in the work to stay in touch.  Want to build stronger, closer bonds with your friends? Take the initiative, plan a get-together and work on those bonds.  Think that you and a new co-worker could be really good friends?  Don’t sit around waiting for it to happen.  Invite them to lunch or out for drinks. Do something!

That work may take the form of making plans.  If you are anything like me, you have let fear keep you from taking chances and putting in the work to make relationships last.  Fear of rejection, fear of not knowing what to say, fear of looking stupid . . . you get the idea.  But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a tiny bit braver.  Especially since moving to Iowa.  I could choose to sit around and wait for my friends to contact me and make plans to get together.  Or I can send out a Facebook message or a text to a group of friends and set up the event myself.  And guess what – I usually get at least a couple of people to say yes.  Some of those get togethers last for hours and some are shorter.  Some are filled with lots of laughter and noise and others are calmer experiences.

That work may also take a tougher form – that of mending hurt feelings.  Be willing to apologize.  More importantly, be willing to forgive.  Yes, there will be those who will consistently fail you and you may need to set very clear boundaries with them to keep the relationship healthy. But even the best friend may say something hurtful or do something thoughtless. That includes you and me.  Forgive quickly and apologize even faster.  That’s the tough part of working on relationships but if you can weather the storms, you’ll come out stronger on the other side.

Most of all, let your friends know they matter.  A quick note through the mail, a text message, a quick message via social networking . . . any of these can do wonders for building up your friend, letting them know you are thinking of them and strengthening the relationship.

Reblogged: Choosing Happy

Just posted something on here about emotional and relational growth.  How much it can hurt and the fact that it occasionally sucks.

Hate it when my words get tested when they are still fresh in my mind!

Without being specific and naming names (because I’m not going to get petty like that!) it has become clear to me that some people just do not know how to be happy or let others be happy.  They carry this emotional ugliness with them like toxic sludge and they make sure to smear it all over the paths of those they encounter.  They don’t know how to be happy when good things happen to others because they are too busy resenting the person rather than celebrating with and for them!

When you come to the sludge others have left in your way, you have a choice to make.  You can wallow in the sludge, flinging some of it back at the person who left it there, and lowering yourself to his/her level in the process.  You can attempt to defend yourself against the unkind words that spew from their mouths out of habit. If you choose this option, you will eventually become a person who leaves the sludge of emotional ugliness in the path of others.

Or you can look around for those moments of brightness that have been placed in your path by those who have a much healthier, less self-centered approach to life!  You can choose to listen to the voices of those cheering you on to bigger and better things.  You can rise to the challenges before you and face them head on, choosing to work your tail end off to make something amazing happen.

In case you haven’t guessed, I’m dealing with some “sludge-flingers” right now.  So far I’ve been able to handle the situation with relative ease.  Now they are choosing to fling sludge meant for me at one of my children.  It’s just not cool to put my kids in the middle of their ugliness and luckily the child in question has a decent head on her shoulders so I am not worried about her.

It would be so easy to start flinging ugly right back at them.  It might almost feel cathartic.  I mean, Mama Bear would LOVE to defend her cub!

Nope.  Not going there.

I am in the midst of trying to realize a 20 year dream and I am absolutely surrounded by people who are cheering me on, working alongside me to help it happen, or who simply love on me regardless of what else is going on.  These people bring so much laughter, love, and joy to my life that I feel positively overwhelmed by it at times.  Truthfully, the joy-bringers outnumber the sludge-flingers pretty significantly (sorry for the rhyme – it was truly unintended!).

So today I choose to step around the piles of emotional “ick” left in my way.  My focus is on all of the loving, positive, encouraging people in my life.  The sludge bearers are wasting their time.  I’m choosing happy!

Reblogged: Epiphany – Sort of!

This thought shouldn’t be revolutionary to me.  But it did stop me short earlier today.  It shouldn’t have.  Unfortunately, the fact that it DID stop me short is proof that head knowledge isn’t necessarily enough to make a heart change.

In the Gospels, we are told that a teacher of the law came to Jesus and asked him which law was the most important.  Jesus answered –

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)

Love the Lord your God.  Not be a perfect wife or mother, not keep a perfect home, not be a model employee.  Love the Lord your God with EVERYTHING you are.

I waste so much time trying to “fix” or “improve” my life by focusing all my attention on those problem areas/strained relationships/personal weaknesses and get frustrated when I can’t get the positive changes to “stick”.

But my focus is wrong.  It’s not that God doesn’t want to affect those areas.  He most certainly does.  But he wants my priorities to be right.  If I can learn to love him with all that I have – my mind, my heart, my soul, my strength – then he will walk through all those broken places and start teaching me, stretching me, empowering me, and motivating me to make the changes as a result of making Him the absolute number one priority in my life.

For so long, I have tried to “be good enough” and all I end up doing is failing those I want to be good enough for and frustrating myself when I do so.  This is the key.  Loving God the way it is described in the verse above will give him the place in my heart that he needs to effect positive changes in every other area of my life.  Think about – focusing on obeying that one law will talk care of ALL the others.  (Now to make sure I don’t forget that!)

Relationally Speaking

Had a conversation recently with someone who is more of an “introvert”.  In other words, they need time alone to recharge; without alone time, they cannot function at their best.  She and I were chatting – and I should disclose that this conversation took place via private message on Facebook – and she made a statement that I’ve heard before – “I know you find it fun to hang out with other people and that’s cool.”

Fun.

Sure.  I gain enjoyment from interacting with other people in a casual way.

But it’s SOOOOO much more than that.

The internet is full of articles explaining introverts; they feel the need to defend their need to withdraw from the “madding crowd” from time to time.  I get it.  Believe me, I get it.  I have a sister who has always been like that.  I also have a child who needs serious amounts of alone time to function at her best.

And I am completely the opposite.

I NEED meaningful interaction with other human beings to thrive.  I cannot function at my best if I have been saddled with large quantities of alone time.

I’m not talking about the shallow “Did you find everything okay?” type conversation you have with a cashier.  Or the “How are you?” to which we always answer “I’m good.”  I’m talking about meaningful, share my dreams, talk about what makes me laugh, share what inspires me, type of conversation.

Ironically, I can psych myself out of calling up friends to chat or to plan a get-together.  The need for meaningful interaction – and that can come in the form of a fabulously intense belly laugh kind of evening – is so powerful that I’m worried I’ll screw it up.  Or that those I try to plan an outing with will turn me down in favor of someone/something they like better.

And I’ve learned, from talking to others like me, that I’m not unique in that fear.

So you have a group of people that need significant interaction with others yet who are afraid to reach out to others to get that interaction.

The end result of that is pretty predictable at this point in my life – if I’ve gone without interaction for awhile, I can get SUPER chatty once an opportunity presents itself.  And I know I’m not the only extroverted person who behaves in such a way.  If we’ve gone without a chance to recharge our “emotional batteries” in awhile, we’ll take ridiculous advantage of the situations that do arise.

I guess what I’m saying is fairly simple – where an introvert needs space and time away from others on a regular basis so that he or she can function at his or her very best, I need exactly the opposite.

For the relationally motivated in your life, the easiest thing you can do to help them stay “fully functional” is to be available on a regular basis for regular interaction with you.  Trust me.  You’ll both appreciate how much more emotionally balanced they are.

26 Years Ago

On this day – August 15 – 26 years ago, my life was irrevocably altered.  Forever.

On that day I became a mother.  My body was cut open, a completely independent, unique individual was delivered through that most welcome scar, and my husband said, “It’s a girl.”

And EVERYTHING changed.

I discovered that I possessed a larger capacity for love than I had ever imagined.  I could stare at her sleeping face for hours and not get bored.

I discovered that I was willing to do anything to protect her.  The first time another child pushed her down to take a toy away, I was willing, just for a second, to cause that child severe pain in defense of my duckling.

I discovered that I could hear the change in her breathing when sound asleep and once it woke me, I wouldn’t sleep for hours out of fear that something was wrong.

Her laughter could make my breath catch in my throat and her sticky-faced kisses were the best part of my day.  And the first time she smiled at me?!  Tears were shed.

She got older and the teen years proved to be a challenge.  She was trying to find her own way, spread her wings a bit, explore a bigger portion of the world.  And I was still trying to keep her safe.  Maybe trying a little too hard.

Adulthood.  This is where parenting gets hard.  Elizabeth Stone said it best –

Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.

Moving away from home, having her own daughter . . . that little bundle of joy-beyond-understanding has done both of those things.  She’s well-respected at her work, has regular clients that prefer to work with her over others, knows what she believes and lives by it and has recently become a mother.  Watching her love on that precious little girl who made me a grandma?!  There are no words.

Most days I breathe a huge sigh of relief and say a quick prayer of thanksgiving that I didn’t screw up too terribly.  And I will forever be humbly grateful that I was the one lucky enough to get to be “mom” to such a stellar human being.