I was talking with Deborah, my oldest daughter today and we were chatting about Chicago weather which was 95 degrees with 95% humidity yesterday and a balmy 78 today. She walks to work each day which is about a 3+ mile trip round trip. Needless to say it was more than sticky yesterday for her. None of this relates to the jlog I’m writing, but this was the start of our conversation.
Anyway during our interaction, she asked me what I was doing today. I told her that Nadine and I had taken a 5+mile walk and had eaten our breakfast. I then told her that I was going to watch as some workmen at our house were putting up a pergola on our back patio. It then hit me as to my deja vu moment.
Around 1976 we were living in Tampa, Florida. My late wife and I had a meeting over in St. Petersburg across the Tampa bay. St Petersburg is known as a retirement community where the cars go slower, people walk slower, and time begins to stand still. As we pulled into the downtown area, I noticed about 30 senior citizens standing and sitting around a construction sight looking at the building that was happening. I remember joking at the time that these old folks had nothing more to do but to sit and watch a building being built.
I was that person. I’m doing the same thing that I joked about decades ago with a bunch of senior citizens. On this journey, be careful what you joke about. You may in fact become the person you are joking about.
I had a family who once came in for intensive counseling. They were from the southeast and needed family counseling. One of the prime issues the family was dealing with was the anger the father manifested to the rest of the family. If he got angry he would go on for hours at a time. Over the course of the session, the son-in-law said something that ticked the father off. He began to rage and you could see the fear surface on the faces of the rest of the family members.
After a period of time, I reflected on what he had said and he responded, “You damm right.” He continued to rage and I would periodically stop and reflect back to him what I heard him saying. I was only mirroring back to him the perspectives he was communicating in his ranting. After about four of these encounters, he calmed down and was back to normal. I asked him how he felt and he said he was very calm. Then he said something very interesting. “For the first time in my life, I feel that someone really understood what I was saying.” In more cases than not, when someone gets angry they are intensifying their emotions because they feel they are not being heard. When I reflected or mirrored what he was saying back to him, he began to feel that someone heard him for the first time. I didn’t give my opinion as to what I felt was true or untrue. I just listened and reflected his perspective back to him.
Solomon states, “If the ruler’s anger rises against you, don’t leave your post, for calmness puts great offenses to rest.” Ecclesiastes 10:4 CSB. When you are dealing with an angry person, staying with that person and not running away is the best way in beginning to deal with intense emotions. Doing reflective listening (mirroring back to the person what they are saying) is the second step in handling angry people. Caution: If an individual is threatening or is about to do physical harm to you, you need to remove yourself from danger.
On this journey, we will inevitably encounter angry people in our lives. Staying put and taking time to listen to them will cause them to feel heard and will allow them to calm down.
A couple came into my office for counseling a few years back. They were having problems and wanted advice or I assumed they did. They told me their issues. They gave me some background on their history in their marriage. They both gave me their perspective on the problems they were facing. It was time to give some input and so I started down the road in giving my insight as to my perspective. Immediately the husband cut me off, became defensive and pontificated upon his perspective. When he finished, I asked him if he wanted my input. He indicated he did so I told him he had cut me off and I began to give my input. Again he cut me off and went off again. This pattern happened 2-3 more times, so I quit trying to give my input and sat there and just listened.
We have come across or will encounter people who have or are making wrong decisions in their life. Regarding relationships. Regarding work choices. Personal decisions that are negatively affecting their lifestyle. We can see from the outside what they are doing wrong and we have some answers that could make their present life much better. What do we say or do in those situations?
Solomon speaks to this situation when he says, “The one who corrects a mocker will bring abuse on himself; the one who rebukes the wicked will get hurt. Don’t rebuke a mocker, or he will hate you; rebuke the wise, and he will love you. Instruct the wise, and he will be wiser still; teach the righteous, and he will learn more.”
Proverbs 9:7-9 CSB. A mocker is one who isn’t interested in getting any advice for themselves. A mocker is a disagreeable and unpleasant person. They think they know it all and don’t need anyone to give them any advice. So if we try to advise them, the mocker will turn their anger and angst around and we will get the brunt of their mocking. If we seek to give advice to the wicked we will get hurt in the end. Giving advice to a wise person is the only route that ends well for us. It says that the wise person will love us. The wise person will thank us for our input and be grateful for the insight that we have given them
So how do we know if someone is ready to hear our input? The easiest way to find out if someone is willing to hear input is by asking them, “Would you like my input?” If they say yes, they are forced to listen to what you have to say. If you see defensiveness or denial in what you are saying, they are probably not ready to hear any advice and you need to back off. Only wise people will be willing to hear counsel and work on areas in their life that are defective.
On this journey, we need to be cautious as to the input that we give to people. The more we ascertain who the wicked and mockers are, the better response we will get from people we give advice to.
There are times in my life when I have broken rules, but for the most part I try to follow the rules, especially when it comes to the Lord’s rules. I learned this from my mother. Nadine and I took her out for McDonalds today and we had an interesting conversation. Just a little backdrop on my mother. She is 100 and walks 1 to 1 1/2 miles a day. She lives in an assisted living facility and has her meals cooked for her, but she is self sufficient for all other needs. Her dining room always has cloth napkins and table cloths with fresh flowers. Every meal. That’s why when we come to see her she wants to go to McDonalds where there are no flowers, nor table cloths, nor cloth napkins.
Back to the story. I asked mom if she would run a red light if it were 2 am in the morning and no one was driving any of the roads and the red light wasn’t turning green. Would you wait for the light to turn green, or break the law and go for it. When it comes to the Lord’s rules, she is one of the most spiritual persons I know. But we were talking about a situation in which the circumstances conflicted with a traffic law. She said that she would go through the red light, but that my father wouldn’t. I’m like my mom. I would break the traffic rule. But God’s rules and commands are given for our benefit. It’s not that I break all laws, for I don’t. God gives us commands on how we are to act and live on this earth and all of his commands are good for us.
Solomon talked about commands, teaching and corrective discipline. He says, “For a command is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective discipline is the way to life.” Proverbs 6:23 CSB. Commands that come from God are specifically designed to give us a lamp to guide our steps when we can’t see our way. Teaching brings awareness and shines light on our ignorance. When we are going astray and making wrong decisions in life, corrective discipline stops us in our tracks and gets us back on the path to life. We need all three, commands, teaching, and corrective discipline, to help us to maximize our time here on this earth.
On this journey there will be times when we need to obey a command that God puts in front of us. There will be times when we need to submit to teaching to bring to light the dark places of our knowledge and insight. And there will be times when we need to be corrected regarding the wrong path we are taking. Submit to these truths and life will be ours in abundant measure.
All of us at one have been single and free from the burdens of responsibility. During that freedom many of us come in contact with the opposite sex and fall in love. It’s during this process that we want to trade our singleness to marriedness because of the love we have for that person. We choose to remove the freedom we have experienced and take on the responsibility of being married with all that entails.
What we do to cultivate that relationship is all important. Life happens. Conflicts emerge. Problems surface. Temptations occur. What we do when these thing occur is critical if we are to see our marriage grow and enrich over time. Solomon speaks to this issue when he says, “Drink water from your own cistern, water flowing from your own well. Should your springs flow in the streets, streams in the public squares? They should be for you alone and not for you to share with strangers. Let your fountain be blessed, and take pleasure in the wife of your youth. A loving deer, a graceful doe — let her breasts always satisfy you; be lost in her love forever.” Proverbs 5:15-19 CSB
Solomon knew that problems would come in marriage. Of any person, he would know. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines. I’ve never had a concubine, so I don’t know what their responsibilities are, but I couldn’t imagine 700 wives. Not 300. Not 50. Not 5. One wife is enough to take care of let alone 700. But with all of these relationships, Solomon talks about ‘taking pleasure in the wife of your youth”. Solomon was a man and talked about his relationships with his wife. If you are a female and married, you could as well substitute your husband in place of your wife (except for the breasts being satisfying to you). Maybe he realized that God’s plan of having one wife/husband was a better plan than what he experienced in his life. He realized that focusing on the wife of one’s youth by allowing her physical beauty of her breasts was the ultimate satisfaction. Being lost in her love forever is a powerful statement. Focusing on our wife forever and being lost in all her qualities and attributes that she brings to the table is the secret to marital enrichment.
On this journey, we need to cultivate that relationships that God has given us. Focusing on our spouse and being lost in love for them is a good step each of us could work on today and forever.
Today is a day to celebrate Independence from England. There were a band of Americans that had had enough of the taxes and control that England put on the early settlers, so they rebelled. They sought their independence. On July 4. That’s what we celebrate today with food and fellowship and fireworks. Today would be a great day to thank a veteran for continuing to keep our country safe and free from control of those who would love to take over our country.
I have a friend who wanted to get out of his job that took him weeks at a time away from his family. He decided to try his hand at owning a bar/restaurant with a friend of his. He put up the money to remodel the restaurant as well as putting up many hours of blood, sweat and tears to get it up and running. Unfortunately he didn’t realize that his friend was not a good communicator when conflict surfaced. My friend tried to talk with his partner, but the partner wouldn’t answer any calls nor emails, nor texts. He realized that he had made an agreement with someone that was not honest nor wanting to work out any issues regarding the restaurant. Rather than try to work it out with his ex-friend, he walked away with losing over $200,000. He learned a very difficult lesson.
Solomon speaks to this issue when he says, “My son, if you have put up security for your neighbor or entered into an agreement with a stranger, you have been snared by the words of your mouth trapped by the words from your mouth. Do this, then, my son, and free yourself, for you have put yourself in your neighbor’s power: Go, humble yourself, and plead with your neighbor. Don’t give sleep to your eyes or slumber to your eyelids. Escape like a gazelle from a hunter, like a bird from a hunter’s trap.” Proverbs 6:1-5 CSB
We need to be careful when we think of entering into an agreement or contract with anyone. When we realize after the fact that we should have never entered into an agreement with this person, we need to take the necessary steps of going to the person and seeking to remove ourselves from the agreement. Solomon refers to this as placing ourselves in that person’s power. Some of the closest friends have been torn apart by an agreement or decision that went bad. Wisdom says to do whatever you need to do to get out of the snare that your words have placed you in. Humble yourself. Plead with your neighbor to get out of the contract or agreement.
On this journey, there will be all kinds of traps. Caution in entering into any agreement or contract is the first step before proceeding down the road with anyone.