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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Communication and Conflict

Dear Readers,

I have to address this matter of communication. It is a big bee in my bonnet - dozens of them actually, buzzing to get out.

I want to sit everyone down and affirm that yes, communication in all relationships is very important. Without it, I don't believe, we have any real relationship. So let's all agree that working on communication skills is important, essential, helpful and all the rest... agreed? Okay, let's move on.

Now, here's the dilemma. In relationships we will all differ. We will not agree on everything all the time. This is what makes each of us unique and special and what gives relationships that wonderful rush - to discover that someone different from me actually cares or/and wants to engage in meaningful relational activities with me (like, communicating, for one). Relationships that thrive allow each person much freedom to be who he/she is, to bring to the table the totality of his/her thoughts, feelings, opinions, joys, sorrows, ideas etc. This is what I think of as ideal in relationships. Probably many/most women feel like me in this.

Now, we know men are different. Unique, wonderful, designed by God - different. Maybe some men appreciate my sentiments above. Maybe not. I don't know. But I wonder if men prefer other things in relationships - like rule-following, procedure, method, consistency, nodding and smiling and being pleasant (in general), not talking too much, not stating what one thinks too much... Is this just a male/female difference? I don't know, I'm just letting the bees out of my bonnet.

I don't understand. I don't think communication is all that difficult. The method, the communicating is often the target of what's the problem in relationships. But I think more often it is what is communicated (i.e. the heart of a person - where they differ, how they think etc), that creates the conflict.

For example, let's say you think I'm a total jerk. You can communicate that to me in the nicest, most diplomatic way possible. You could follow all the rules. You could draw me out first. You could ask clarifying questions. Then you could muster all your sweet strength and gently, kindly, tell me what you think of me, in the nicest, most dressed-up language possible. Do you think the communication itself will create the blow-up that would follow? I think NOT! It is your very thoughts that create the conflict - and this is not right or wrong - it just IS.

If we are to be free to be who we are in relationships, and if there is acceptance available for all sorts of differences between us, then we need to realize that it isn't necessarily the communication styles and preferences that are always the culprit to why conflict arises. Often it is our very selves, our very natures that spark the argument.

I just had to get that out there.

Thanks for listening.

Even if you think I am a jerk. Sometimes.

Sarah

Make your own Shampoo!

The sub-title of this blog includes total randomness, so chalk this one up under that category...

I read recently of someone who had quit shampoo. Always on the lookout for how to simplify life and in efforts at being really REALLY frugal, I thought I'd give it a try. (I know, from the sublime to the mundane, this is a multiple-personality blog)... I modified the recipe, since what I first tried made my hair feel almost too squeaky clean. I have gone 3 weeks now with my new homemade shampoo and my hair is less greasy and more manageable than with all the other stuff I'd use. I also like to try to minimize the use of synthetic chemicals on the body, though I don't get too fanatical about that. I make my own creams too sometimes (but I don't usually tell people, lest they think I'm really weird. Oh, too late, anyone who knows me would conclude this!)

Here's my recipe:

4 cups water
4 T. Baking soda
4 drops tea tree oil
_______________
Optional add in:

1t. baby shampoo
1t. any conditioner

Mix it all, shake it up and voila!

It is very watery, obviously, and the last two ingredients are optional. I added those after I tried the original part for a week. It just made it lather a bit, whereas it didn't lather before. The conditioner is just a novelty - makes my hair comb faster. Use as much as you want or as little to get your hair to feel clean.

Just think how cheap this is! Now, if I can just get all members of my household to jump on the bandwagon...


Friday, July 8, 2011

Judging


"Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes." Verses from 1 Corinthians 4

I recently read these verses and am astonished that in my 30 some odd years of reading capability I have missed these precious truths! Oh how much grief I would have been spared had I known that Paul a) didn’t judge himself b) had a clear conscience, but still knew the Lord would judge and c) instructs us to wait until the Lord’s return to do any judging.

I posted this as my status for today on facebook and someone asked me what it means to me. Of course the question ‘What does it mean to me?’ can lead to wrong conclusions because Scripture has a meaning, the author intended to say something specific and it isn’t willy-nilly, pick-and-choose, cut-and-paste hermeneutics I am after. However, it is good to ask this question sometimes, as long as my answer doesn’t lead me down paths contrary to what Scripture teaches. The better question is, ‘What is Paul’s meaning, and why did God include these verses in His Book to us?’ But I was happy to answer it because it does mean something to me! Hopefully I am not a heretic in my response! Here is what I said: it means that I need to let God be the judge and not play the judge or play the victim. Both are inappropriate stances for me to take. Also, it means that having a clear conscience does not prove ones innocence. Sadly I often have a 'clear conscience' but later discover that I had been in error. Therefore, it is faulty to conclude that by my own reckoning I am deemed innocent. Further to that, I am thankful that Paul didn't even judge himself. So often people have promoted an idea to me of just the opposite - that I should judge myself! Maybe all judging, of self and others is best left until the Lord comes.

I hope to re-visit this – and probably will because if anything stirs my mental hornet’s nest this ranks close to the top – judging and being judged. It is something I’ve experienced, dealt with from both sides in my own heart and continue to face, sometimes on a daily basis. (Recently I was again told that a woman wearing pants is an abomination to God based on verses in Deuteronomy… but I digress… if I get started on that we’ll be here a long time). (Okay, I just have to put in the rest of that conversation because I was proud of my response. The person telling me this happened to be wearing flip-flops. So I said, ‘Did you know men wear flip-flops, so you are wearing something that pertains to men?’ She replied, ‘Well, I think it is only referring to clothing, not shoes.’ I left it at that because it was just too ridiculous to discuss – who revealed to her that God cares so much about the pants a woman wears but it doesn’t apply to her shoes? I also pointed out that Jesus probably wore a dress. But I didn’t get very far).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Anger in Parenting

I really have a bee in my bonnet this time. I invite your comments and input here - please, share freely your opinions and insights!

We started off as parents agreed that discipline in the home should be orderly, un-emotive, controlled, calm, and firm. We read books such as 'Shepherding a Child's heart' and 'To Train up a Child' among many others. We interviewed other parents whose kids we liked. We talked to kids raised in homes we respected. Many of our conclusions led to a non-emotional approach to discipline. We felt that discipline should always be divorced from expressed anger from the parent.

Somewhere along the way I lost my convictions on this matter. I began to believe it was important for my kids to understand that anger isn't wrong, that disobedience invokes anger, that anger can be healthily displayed and controlled, that God can be angry at times - while still not treating us as our sins deserve - and on and on... At the same time, Scripture is clear that there is a call to self-control as a fruit of the Spirit and that our 'gentleness should be evident to all.'

I have a lot more to say on this, but I'm too angry to voice it here at this point, or it will come out as irrational ranting, which is not what I want. I am angry about and at anger. I am angry that addressing anger in myself even has to be a point I think upon. I am angry that I am caught between vascillating convictions - to be angry or not. It all just angers me so. And disobedience and siblings not dwelling in harmony - these anger me too. Should they not anger me? Should I just calmly apply discipline as some kind of robotic being who expressed nothing more than a firm 'This should not be done!' while implementing stern consequences for foul behaviour? Should I never yell at my kid when they disobey? Is yelling entirely wrong? Is anger harmful to children?

I'll toss this out there and wait for replies. Surely you all have something to say on the matter. I read in Proverbs yesterday about the foolish not heeding instruction and scoffing at wisdom. I hope not to be like that. Please feel free to point out the error of my ways/thinking. I will give it careful thought, I assure you!

Thanks people!

You can now read Part 2 by following this link:
Anger in Parenting Part 2