October 24, 2017

Thank God I’m Wrong By: Melissa Lowery, M.A.

Melissa Lowery is an Associate with me at the Pax Renewal Center. Not only is she a great therapist, but she is an insightful, excellent writer. I hope you enjoy this.  Dan Jurek

I was inspired by a recent women’s event at Asbury United Methodist Church to think on my own spiritual journey, and if I had my own pearls of wisdom, or “pearls of faith” to pass on, what would they be? It simply comes down to one pride-swallowing admission: Thank you, Lord, for being so much smarter than I am.

I am a planner. I will not say that I am a control freak (who wants to admit that?), but I do like for things to go predictably according to my expectations. No one likes the feelings of disappointment and anxiety that go along with adjustment and, dare I say it, being wrong. But, I am infinitely grateful that my mistakes and well-intentioned plans are overseen by someone who knows so much more than I do about what is right for me.

So, how do we engage in a relationship with God that is not equivalent to that of a petulant child (“Here, Lord, I give this over to you… No, now I want it back… No, you can take it… No, it’s mine.”)? Is it humanly possible to trust God more than we trust ourselves? Larry Crabb suggests there are steps in the spiritual process that allow for pain, change, and healing, all in the journey of bringing us closer to God through self-awareness:

1)    “Shattered dreams are necessary for spiritual growth.” We often feel we know what is best, and we establish dreams and hopes in pursuit of that perception. So, we experience disappointment and even grief when they do not go according to plan. Some dreams need to be broken in order to proceed the way God intends.

2)    Something wonderful survives everything terrible, and it surfaces most clearly when we hurt.” Looking back, some of my most challenging times in life brought on the strongest, most fervent efforts of soul-searching. I was open to new emotions, insights, and relationships, because I recognized whatever I was previously doing had not worked.

3)    “Some dreams important to us will shatter, and the realization that God could have fulfilled that dream pushes us into a terrible battle with Him.” When a most cherished dream is shattered, such as the death of a loved one, our nature is to question God – why did He allow it, or why did He not prevent it? At some point, we experience tension with God.

4)    Only an experience of deep pain develops our capacity for recognizing and enjoying true life.” If I always give my daughter candy, she will never learn to like vegetables. Just as we experience lesser wants to our satisfaction, we never know to strive for something greater.

5)    “No matter what happens in life, a wonderful dream is available… That experience, strange at first, will eventually be recognized as joy.” The past is not to be recaptured but to be used as a launching pad for new, joyful dreams as God designs.

If we trust God’s dreams for us, not our own, we are open to experience joy. If a dream is shattered, we should feel as we need to feel – hurt, sad, confused – then, we open ourselves to what is next on our path. The more confidence we have in God, the more confidence we have in our own judgment to make sound and faithful decisions for our lives.

 

 

 

Touching Souls

This is one of my favorite quotes:

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature- trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.

                                                   ~Mother Teresa

Communication or Making a Connection?

“Let your speech be always gracious and in good taste, and strive to respond properly to all who address you.”   Colossians 4:6

John and Diane, like most couples who come into my office for marriage counseling want to learn communication skills. They have been married for 11 years and have four children under the age of eight.

They tell me they just don’t seem to be able to get along anymore. “All we do is fight”, said John. “I say something – almost anything and Diane interprets it to mean that I’m telling her she’s doing something wrong. She get’s defensive, I get angry and World War III breaks out.”

Diane sees it a little differently. “Whatever I do is never good enough for John. If I clean the house, it’s not clean enough. If I get 20 errands run in my day, he wants to know why I didn’t get 25 errands done. I don’t know if I can do this anymore. We have got to find a better way.”

John and Diane know how to communicate all right, though they’re not doing it in a healthy or effective way. As a matter of fact, they have gotten so good at communicating poorly that they literally push each other away instead of drawing each other close. They are disconnecting and not communicating to connect.

In order to communicate to connect, John and Diane have to create a safe and sacred space between them. They have to tune out the distractions and tune in to each other. They have to learn to touch each other gently and “invade” each others personal space to create a spousal sacred space.

Good communication is not about what we say, as much as about what we hear. The most important communication skill that I know of is listening. Attentive listening, hearing what the other is saying and meaning leads to intimate connection.

John and Diane have begun to apply these principals as they relate to one another. Along with other skills, strategies and techniques that I have taught them, they are discovering intimacy again – deep sharing that connects them and brings them closer to each other.

“A Bug’s Life”–And Staying in Love

One of my favorite all time movie clips comes from the animated movie, A Bug’s Life. A scene opens in the movie as night descends on an SUV parked next to a lone camper. The night sky is beautiful, the air is calm, the stars are bright, the bugs are buzzing, and the crickets are chirping under a gorgeous night sky.
The focus immediately shifts to a bug light hanging from the front porch of the camper. Two small bugs are flying together. As they pass the bug light, you see one of the bugs veer off from its partner toward the light. The other bug screams at the top of its voice, “No Harry no, don’t look at the light”. Continuing to fly straight toward the light, we hear Harry, in a hypnotic like, trance induced voice, “I can’t help it, it’s so beautiful”.  In that instant, the bug light flashes and you hear the dreaded, yet inevitable electrical surge. Harry screams and falls to his apparent death. The temptation allured Harry the bug by its beauty and warmth, but ended up killing him.
Whenever I hear a client, or a friend, or a member at church say to me, “Dan, I don’t know what to do. I love my wife/my husband, I’m just not in love any more”. When I hear those words, I am absolutely convinced someone else other than their spouse has become the focus of their attention; luring them, distracting them, causing them to lose focus.Yet, like Harry the bug, they still want to say, “I can’t help it, it’s so beautiful”.  The temptation almost always turns out to be more lethal that beautiful.Usually, people around these folks tempted “by the light” are saying, “don’t go toward the light, look away, look away.” They can see the danger, the inevitable disaster ahead.Yet again, the light is seemingly too beautiful, too perfect, too alluring to turn away.”Love at first sight is easy to understand; it’s when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle” (Anonymous).

There are many distractions out there. Spousal Love is a decision. It’s a choice everyday to honor the covenant relationship of marriage. More about ‘love is a decision’ another time.

“I give you a new commandment: Love one another; you must love one another just as I have loved you.” (John 13:34)

Click the link to watch the short clip of the movie I described above – enjoy!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=coGBgkjGQ9g&feature=related