Have Things Gotten Bitter Between You? (Relationships with Sugar Added)


Relationships are often complicated because people are complicated. When a longterm relationship begins to dissolve, it’s not usually due to a big mistakes made or some epic past failure, but rather in response to a multitude of minor slights adding, multiplying and blending into one large, bitter whole! Relationships fail due to words not said, important things not remembered, genuine care and concern not demonstrated. It breaks up and splinters first in the mind, then in the heart from too many missed opportunities to communicate love. And despite all of its associated complexity, can be repaired quickly by adding a little sugar.

The problem with us humans is that we tend to hold on to the negatives and easily forget the positives. How many people still rehearse the cruel words spoken to them by their partner during a big fight from five years ago? How easy it is to compile a list of a spouse’s failings, then read those failings into future scenarios that soon become present? How many of you have simply made up your mind about who your significant other is and as such offer zero possibilities for a new way in a new day? Your boyfriend, your girlfriend has little chance to demonstrate proper behavior while being chained by you to the mistakes of their past.

Understanding relationships is understanding how each of us grow and evolve. People can and do change even after they may have shown you who they are. The point being that who they are isn’t always defined by who they were. Priorities change. Desires change. Happiness and contentment are based on varying stages of life. Change is good unless it is met with a refusal to see the person through a different lens. Maybe your ex-husband is so happy with his new wife because he finally was afforded the opportunity to be someone else. Maybe you needed to get away from your ex-husband so you could be someone else. Wherever you are or whatever you may be facing, you must have some capability to modify your thinking; to get out of your rut; to reframe your expectations.

I think if you are honest, you have to recognize that relationships require commitment on both parts. I’m not referring to your decision to commit yourself to the relationship, but rather your decision to commit yourself to stop drawing negative conclusions. You have to change your own mind, your own beliefs, your own long-held preconceived notions. You have to cease from being mired in perpetual negative expectations. No matter your justifications, your righteous rights, your standing up for yourself and your other stories you’ve made up to justify your shitty approach, you have to flip the script. You have to realign your “self-defense” mentality to one of alignment and loving mutual respect. You cannot make someone else be something else, but you can damn sure make yourself be something or someone else.

In order for a relationship to thrive there has to be some element of love involved and love is best characterized by sweetness. To think that sweetness is somehow weak or pitiful or acknowledging inferiority is to be deluded in regard to the essence of human relationships. Now I recognize that people have hurt you and maybe done and said all manner of terrible things to you, but that doesn’t negate your ability to be kind; to be tender; to be sweet. The alternative is simply to keep living and reliving the same nightmare over and over and over again. Your escape isn’t in finding the perfect guy or the ideal woman, but rather in relocating your heart; the one you had before the damage occurred. The real you wants to give love and receive love no matter how far down you got knocked. It seems risky but in reality there is no risk because love never fails!

Real love; true love; abiding love requires a new beginning, a fresh start. Just as you forgive yourself for your own absurdities and foolishness, you have to be willing to offer your love interest the same privileges. You have to learn to make your evaluations and draw your conclusions based on today in the moment called now. Today is always a new day and carries with it unlimited new beginnings. Sure stuff is going to happen that drags you back to yesterday, but in like fashion you pull your own self back to today. You treat your partner like someone you love in spite of yourself. Just as a soft answer turns away wrath, a soft approach can remedy a whole world of failings. If your love is always based on proper behaviors and the right words you are setting yourself up for a misery that cannot be overcome.

Decide right now to be that warm, loving person you know you really are already. Stop with your defensive approach, your self preservation, ever hedging just in case.  End your failure planning and plan to succeed. In spite of what is going on and what you are experiencing, be sweet; so lovingly, genuinely sweet. In doing so you will find that sweetness and kindness are irresistible and almost impossible to slight. You will find yourself on the high road, unshaken and unaltered in your thinking. You will find yourself living love and giving love from which there is never any need to retreat. You will be loving people how God loves you, unconditionally and without a change of heart.

No matter how bitter or jaundiced you may have become towards him or her, know that there is something you can do. Don’t go to the counselor with an expectation of confirmation for the things you have seen for years, but instead with an open heart regarding what you can do with you to effect a change. Maybe, just maybe it’s you! And if it’s not you, you still have the solemn responsibility to guard and nurture your own heart which is never accomplished in anger, fighting and bitterness of soul! Oh my friends choose sweetness! Add some sugar and see how much better it all tastes!

Just some good thoughts…

 

A Beautiful Mess…


beautiful-messI was talking to a family friend not too long ago and he was asking me about relationships. Long story short, he was looking for the secret. The secret is, there is no secret. In fact, instead of spending another moment seeking out the “perfect” person, find someone you like! The highly publicized media version of a true love relationship isn’t true. What’s true is that every relationship is really a hybrid, unique mess; a beautiful mess.

Jason Mraz, musician, singer, performer, explored the subject quite profoundly with his song, from which I named this blog. And, every time I hear it, it touches something deep inside of me that, for the life of me, I cannot put into words. But, it’s worth the attempt.

Every person you meet is a complex combination of a million variables, all meeting together at a certain point in time. All have a degree of strength and all have elements of weakness. Sometimes the weakness is the strength and often the strength is also the weakness. Some love to touch and be touched, others abhor touching except for those times they need to touch. A few are silly in their seriousness and a few are serious in their silliness. Extraverts become introverted and introverts show extraversion. The pure get corrupted and the corrupted find purity. It’s called being a human being. And, the only way that two human beings can come together is by accepting and learning to love the unique combination that “is” the other person. Undesirable characteristics are as much to be expected as having one ear slightly lower than the other, or certain hairs that refuse to move in a uniform direction, or a random assortment of moles. To foolishly assume that your future life partner will hit all 50 of your desired characteristics is to seek after an image that doesn’t exist.

A relationship with another person is really about the other person. Your mistake is making it all about you. You have to take the good with the bad (I guess). That person you’re seeking that represents everything you want in a companion is doing just that, representing (smile). If you stick with them long enough you’ll begin to see stuff you don’t like. So what, love them anyway. Everything about a person that makes them undesirable can also make them desirable. Those million variables we came from are a combination of good and bad. The good should be encouraged and the bad can be overcome. If my wife really knew who I was while I was “representing” she never would have said yes. But, she did say yes and I’m as far from that guy as the east is from the west.

Quit complicating the thing and find someone you like. Find someone whose ways bypass your mind and touch something in your heart. Find a person whose company you enjoy. Don’t go on a date with your evaluation checklist in hand. Don’t look for the qualities you seek in a marriage partner. That’s like trying to turn your old clunker into a Mercedes. It takes time, effort and quite a bit of cash to get the Mercedes and right now you’re still clunking around (haha)! Love always has been and always will be a decision. You don’t fall in love, you just get enamored by some high priority checklist items. To love another person is to accept (not like) all that they are and love them anyway.

When you get older (and you will) you will discover that your A-List items weren’t really your A-List at all. I mean who doesn’t want hot and sexy and gorgeous and handsome? But, and trust me on this one, it’s hard to stay hot and sexy and handsome! 😉 Age finds a way of doing that to you… Instead, what you really want is companionship. You want someone who gets you and whom you get. And, how in the hell do you ever expect someone to “get you” at the beginning? Shoot, I don’t even “get myself” at times and I’ve been around for awhile! A good relationship requires a lot of work, but out of that mess in the beginning, emerges a beautiful mess if you’ll just stick with it. Couples don’t split up because of the things that go wrong, they split up because somewhere along the way one or both “decided” to stop loving and especially forgiving the other person. What’s the ultimate sin to you is not the ultimate sin to me and they’re all the same to God, anyway… Sin means simply missing the bullseye and which of you hasn’t missed the bullseye?

You see my friends, the ultimate goal of a relationship is companionship. Someone who knows that you will become hostile and insecure when you’re afraid and loves you anyway. Someone who sees the love behind your verbal barbs. Someone who feels your sadness when you are sad and rejoices with you when you rejoice. Someone who endures your lengthy discourse about how your day went and someone who expects you to do the same. Someone who not only knows your hot buttons, but even pushes them on occasion, only to promise (again) not to push them anymore. Someone that just loves you for you and could care less about your receding hairline or the size of your butt! Someone whose presence you require, though no words are being spoken. Someone who, with you, took the time to make the mess…beautiful!

You want to enjoy a great relationship? Find someone you like and get to work. Who is to say that your mess won’t one day turn out beautiful as well? Indeed, who is to say???

Just some good thoughts…

The Elusive Moments of Clarity…


ClarityRecently my sister in-law suffered through the untimely death of her brother. He had an aggressive form of cancer and despite having lived longer than projected, he ultimately died. The whole experience, besides the unfathomable grief, produced in her moments of clarity she hadn’t really expected. It seems in situations when our own mortality is forced into our awareness, the most important things in life rush to the forefront of our minds. So, that got me thinking… Is the clarity we all desire, contingent upon dire circumstances? Do we have to face life threatening situations firsthand in order to finally see what is most important?

Clarity can be defined as those seemingly rare times in life when we finally “get it” or are able to see the things that formerly eluded us. Clarity seems to follow focus and nothing demands more focus than facing the possibility of actually dying or the death of someone you love. And amazingly, in the face of death we contemplate life. Suddenly the important things take on a huge significance. No one speaks of their beautiful home or their possessions, but instead consider the people in their lives and those significant relationships that mean the most. Near death experiences and the perils of war awaken the survivors to a world they previously took for granted.

This life; this precious life is alarmingly short. And despite the brevity of life, we all march on entranced in our routines virtually asleep to what matters most. We stop looking; really looking at our spouses and our children. We desensitize to our surroundings. The good we enjoy we grow accustomed to and even make time for complaint. We dream and yearn for the day when we finally have “such and such” and when we arrive, we pause then quickly begin our ascent to the next plateau.

It shouldn’t take the threat of losing it all to alert our souls to the perfection we have already. We move too fast. We think too fast. We expect results too fast. We want more and more and need less. We look for happiness in transient things while ignoring what endures. People endure. Relationships endure. Love endures. In those rare moments when I imagine my last days, my children gathered around me, I think what I might say to them. And for the life of me, all I want to communicate to them is how much I love them; how proud I am of them and who they have become and that i did my best to be my best for them.

Clarity isn’t elusive. Clarity is all around you. Clarity is found in the eyes of your child, the smile from your mother, the understanding glance from your best friend. Clarity is found in your relationships with other people and most profoundly with our God that made us. Clarity comes when we finally step out of the rat race of endless distraction and focus on the things that matter most. It is not reserved only for times of pending tragedy and the threat of death, but more for times of reflection at a speed that allows for it. The clarity we ardently seek is seeking us.

If we are honest, our perpetual striving for things that matter less, is based on fear; the fear of what we think we are supposed to be. We’ve bought into the story that says we must have the money, the stuff, the acclaim and lost track of the reason we do it all. We forgot that the excitement of the new car is lost if we don’t have someone to share it with. No one enjoys the vacation in the exotic place, alone. It’s people and our connection to them that makes this life worthwhile.

The maximized, glorious life is a life that makes time for what is most important. To say there isn’t enough time is to admit a loss of control. The rush, the busy-ness, the constraint isn’t from the demands of life but rather from the fictitious demand of what is not. It’s a distraction of unparalleled proportions. It’s a bait and switch game that purports activity equals productivity and urges getting things done over taking care of people; our people. It emphasizes appearance over people’s hearts and facades above humanity. It’s not clear it’s fuzzy and the finish line is out of view.

Clarity is there for us every single day. Clarity doesn’t elude us, we elude it. We miss it a lifetime from being swept away on a current; a rushing river of activities that steal our time; our focus, our life. Clarity comes from focus; focus on what is most sweet and enduring. Our life comes into focus in direct proportion to our willingness to adjust the lens. We adjust the lens on a subject we choose and not on a subject chosen for us.

Thank God for those moments when life suddenly comes into focus and the false; the illusory fades away. Thank God for the glimpses of light that clear the path ahead and captivate our attention in order to make the necessary change. Thank God for the privilege to see and at last understand. Thank God!

Just some good thoughts…

The Secret to a Good Relationship…


Relationships come in all shapes and sizes (yes, clichés are my life!).  Relationships represent one of, if not the greatest,  component of our lives. You can’t really function as a human without some sort of relationship.  Oh, you can try, but you aren’t going to be very happy. But when it comes to relationships between men and women, we as collective group, have developed some rather odd expectations.  How many times have you heard of someone looking for their soul-mate or for Mr. Right?  The idea behind those notions is somewhat unrealistic.  First, that whole soul-mate thing presumes that there is that one person “out there” who is predestined to be your other half.  You, apparently, have little or no choice in the matter and have to get busy finding them.  (And there are how many people in the world?)  Then, funnily enough, when you find them they only lived about 20 minutes from you (smile).  Amazing!  And then there is Mr. Right.  Mr. Right is again that one fella who is just right for you.  You can tell when you have found him because he will be just right (haha).  Those of us that have been married for any length of time know that our Mrs. Right or Mr. Right is far from always being just right (Just ask my wife!).  Add to this, can you even imagine living in a culture where your folks choose your mate?  No thanks Mom and Pops!

So what exactly then is a relationship supposed to be?  I think we are smart enough to recognize that any two people can make something work, if they are committed to it.  But what is the secret to a good relationship?  Is there a secret?  To answer that question we have to go back to the origin of man.  Before there were Adam and Eve, God was.  God being all-knowing and all-powerful came up with the grand idea of people.  But there is another aspect of God we must consider as well.  God is love.  God isn’t just the act of loving or One that maintains a loving nature.  God actually is love.  Whatever love is, is God and whatever God is, is love.  They are inseparable.   Interestingly, the one thing the whole world seeks is love.  Mankind is born with a God-hunger on the inside, which can also be called a hunger for love.  In light of that, we have been looking for love in all the wrong places…(singing)…I digress sorta.  Now back to Adam and Eve.  (Hey maybe Eve was Adam’s soul-mate?  Okay only choice?  I guess Adam was Mr. Right as well as Mr. Only…again I digress.)  When God made Adam, He made him body, soul and spirit.  Adam’s spirit was his connection to God, or if you will, his connection to love.  Eve came in similar fashion and was connected to God’s love as well.  They started out connected to and filled with love; God’s love.  There wasn’t much competition so they formed a relationship together (smile).  We can assume as the prototype that they were both pretty “hot” and attracted to each other.  Though they started out perfect, they soon proved by their own free-will that they weren’t perfect.  (You know the story…)  Now if you can take a brief pause from your uncontrollable laughter, the secret to a good, if not great, relationship is in that story.  Relationships between men and women were “supposed” to be based upon a strong, wonderful love from God and a mutual love and devotion to God.  With that firmly in place, the rest was easy!  Sure there was still forgiveness.  Sure there was a willingness to let the past be forgotten.  But in reality, those wonderful qualities are all a part of God’s love anyway.

Accordingly, the problem with relationships now-a-days is that we are looking to fill that void with our mate.  We foolishly think, “if this person would just do what I want; look how I desire and treat me the way I deserve to be treated, I will feel loved.”  Then, when they fall short, as they invariably will, we wrongly conclude that love is lost and that they weren’t really our soul-mate after all.  In reality that approach is very selfish.  Your mate’s job is not be everything you think they should be.  Their job is to be everything they want to be with you being there to support them and love them and encourage them (and vice versa).  Marriage is not two people living one same life.  Marriage is two people living “separate” lives together.  And the only way for that to work out most effectively is for both of the parties involved receiving and sharing God’s love with one another.   Folks ask how Connie and I have stayed together for so long and the answer isn’t, as Connie jokingly says, “that we never wanted to get divorced at the same time.”  The truth is that when things got real crappy, we both loved God enough to persevere.  Without God we would have never made it this far.

So don’t spend all your time and energy looking for Mr. or Mrs. Right.  Spend your energy learning how to receive and give the love that God wants to give to you.  Get good and full of that love and you will suddenly discover there’s a whole lot of soul-mates out there waiting for you!

Just some good thoughts…