Can Reading a Relationship Book Really Help You? By: Elizabeth Lewis, Life Coach/Dating Consultant/Author/Speaker http://www.loveandlaughterlifecoaching.com Can reading a relationship book really make you…
Can Reading a Relationship Book Really Help You?
By: Elizabeth Lewis, Life Coach/Dating Consultant/Author/Speaker
Can reading a relationship book really make your marriage or dating relationships better? Actually, reading alone, will not magically make any relationship better. BUT it might change your thinking or attitude and if you put into action the things you learn, you might actually move forward to a better place.
Let’s take marriage…. as you know, sometimes things get “routine” in a marriage. Sometimes you have to “mix” things up a bit. Whether you get ideas from a book or from something you see on TV, the important thing is that you follow through with ACTION.
A great idea I got from Larry James (professional speaker, author and relationship coach) was how to read a relationship book TOGETHER. He said,
“First of all, head for the local office supply store and buy two colored highlighters.
While YOU are reading it, mark the passages that are important to you with a bright YELLOW highlighter. Then give the book to your love partner requesting that he or she do the same, marking important passages as they read with a light BLUE highlighter.
Why? Because when there are areas in the book that are important to BOTH of you and the highlighters overlay, you will see GREEN. Yellow and blue make green. When you see green this time, it does not mean envy! Green means “Go!” It means these are the areas of the relationship that are important to both of you.
It is always a good idea to begin with areas that you agree upon. Knowing where you stand and what you both hold to be valuable to the relationship is a must. Some couples never stop long enough to consider how important this kind of information can be.
Next. . . take some time to carefully review the passages your partner has marked with their own color; make notes of what is important to him or her. These are the areas of the relationship that need your careful attention. Do your best to focus on what is important to you and to your partner. You need to know what is essential for your partner’s happiness and to care enough to do your best to provide it.
The next step is to openly and honestly discuss what you have read TOGETHER! What you cannot talk about keeps you stuck! Make a new agreement to talk about anything and everything all the time. Make it a promise you both keep. It may be one of the most difficult promises to keep, however the benefits are worth it.
Caution ~ Resist the urge to mark the passages you KNOW your love partner NEEDS to read. When the student is ready, the teacher appears! Let the teacher be the book. . . not you. Let your love partner read and get from the book what he or she needs to learn. It rarely helps to push your own stuff on someone else. It often only causes resentment or drives a person further away.”
** I’ll give you some good book suggestions as the end of this blog.**
What about singles? There are SO many dating/relationship books (and expensive programs) out there… can they really help you move forward? So many singles tell themselves a “story” in their head (a story which usually is not true) and they will look for evidence to validate these perceived truths. Through their experiences they also can get “stuck” in a way of thinking. Usually they get stuck with feelings of inadequacy, not being “enough” and overall think negatively about dating and what’s available to them. Reading a book with a different perspective makes one reflect/examine his/her ways of being and thinking. True, the entire book may not resonate with you BUT if you walk away with a few ideas from each book you read, you can put it all together and make the new way of thinking work for you.
I just wrote a book about dating the “Next” time around called First Date Next Mate (Perspectives in Dating the “Next” Time Around). This was written for those divorced (one or more times), widowed, or for those a little older and have not found love yet. This book (not out until September 2016) is very practical, filled with do’s, don’ts, pros, cons and tells much of what I’ve learned about dating again. It’s not just what I’ve learned personally, but I quote many authors/experts/therapists from the many books I’ve read and resonated. Some learnings came from blogs read, sermons heard, radio shows recorded, research found and from many of the clients/friends I’ve worked with for years. I’m hoping those who read it will take the parts that resonate with them and apply those to their dating life and discard (or come back to later) the rest.
Stay tuned for book signings and speaking engagements after my book launch (September 2016). If you’d like to learn more about my individual coaching (or group classes), visit my website at www.loveandlaughterlifecoaching.com to learn more.
Book suggestions for married couples to read TOGETHER.
- “The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts” By Gary D Chapman
- “Couple Skills: Making Your Relationship Work” By Matthew McKay PhD and Patrick Fanning
- “The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships” By John Gottman
- “When the Past Is Present: Healing the Emotional Wounds that Sabotage our Relationships” By David Richo
- “47 Little Love Boosters For a Happy Marriage: Connect and Instantly Deepen Your Bond No Matter How Busy You Are” By Marko Petkovic
- Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs By Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
- How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage By: Milan Yerkovich, Kay Yerkovich
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide for the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert by John Gottman and Nan Silver.
- Communication in Marriage: How to Communicate with Your Spouse Without Frighting by Marcus and Ashley Kusi
- Boundries in Marriage by Dr. Henry Cloud
God and Your Life Purpose
By: Elizabeth B. Lewis, Life Coach/Dating Consultant/Author/Speaker
This is a risky blog because I’m going to talk about God. WAIT! Don’t stop reading yet. I know everyone does not have a faith and many are skeptical about God. WAIT! Read a little further. Some reading this might immediately swipe right and move to the next email, Facebook post, text. WAIT! Maybe you can glean something new from this and skip over the God talk. But…..why is that? Why do we sometimes turn off listening when God is mentioned? I think it might come from a bad childhood experience with church. OR as adults we see so many hypocritical people who claim to be “Christian” and then see other actions so our response is to rebuke God. Or maybe you heard someone say something critical about God and you said, “Yeah. I think I feel that way, too.” (When really you’re not sure, but it was just easier to believe what someone else believes). Or we are filled with “WHY” questions hoping God will answer and we don’t see or hear evidence of our asking. So we kind of put God on a back burner. I mean, you know He’s there for an emergency. And well….. you believe and all. But that’s about as far as it goes. There’s no real relationship and the questions are too many and overwhelming to explore it all. So much of it just doesn’t make sense. I mean, who has time, really? Right? (BTW- there’s no judgement with where you are—just an observation and a wondering I have). If you’re agnostic or an atheist—and you’re still with me. Keep reading.
I have a million thoughts running through my head about this and decided to just sit down and start writing about it. I‘ve been reading a book by Max Lucado called The Cure for the Common Life. Many thoughts stream from the reading of this book and will quote some of his work and mix it with my thoughts. (I highly recommend this book).
1 Corinthians 12:7 MSG says, “Each person is given something to do that shows who God is.” I ask myself… Am I doing this with my new career? I know I did with my last career. I feel like I am with this career but can I do more? Of course I can! How can I honor God with my next life adventure? Why is talking about spiritual things and God scary or risky for us? Even sometimes for me (and I consider myself a very spiritual person and am a leader in my church). I think it’s partly from fear that others may see us as a “Jesus freak.” Or maybe because we make human mistakes and others will point fingers and judge our actions. So we’d best not talk about our faith for fear of ridicule and harsh judgements. We think it’s best to “play it safe.” I’m not a Bible thumper and can’t quote you scripture (that’s just not my gift) but my faith is important to me. I truly try to be a better person every day and more like Jesus. Do I fail? I do. All the time. But I won’t quit trying. I DO have gifts of connecting others. Teaching. Motivating. Communicating. Organizing. Accepting. Loving. Full of positive energy. Etc. I need to use my own uniqueness to make a bigger deal about God. Every day. No matter my career.
Are you living your God given purpose? Max says, “Don’t worry about skills you don’t have. Don’t covet strengths others do have. Just extract your uniqueness.” All that we have belongs to Him. How are we giving back? Do you need to make a bigger deal about God? It’s a deep question I know, but I think it’s a good one to ask/examine.
As a Life Coach, clients ask, “How do I find my life purpose? What IS my life purpose?” It’s not something I can answer for them, but I do coach them by asking questions that makes them think about what it might be? I help them to overcome the gremlins in their heads and overcome shame so they can look through a different lens of what might be possible for them. (Yes, I’m not just a dating consultant. I DO have married folks, young and old, who seek and hire a life coach). J
I’ve been thinking lately about my next life adventure. I taught for 27 years (loved that career). Reared two amazing kids (definitely loved that job the best). I organize the largest single’s group in Louisville (fun friends and activities). I’m now a Life Coach/ Dating Consultant (love this career). I did a 13 week radio show (that was different and challenging). I host a Life, Love and Dating class every week (Love that group of people). I just wrote a book to help other singles dating again the “next” time around (it’s not out yet but excited for when it does come out). Now what???? In church a few weeks ago, as my head was bowed…. I felt something BUBBLING inside of me. I don’t know what it was. I just know I felt it. Like little butterflies tickling my stomach, inside my heart and on my lungs when I took a breath. That feeling starting leaking out of my eyes! I’m still not sure what it is. But it was there. Because of that, I’m listening; remaining open to what “it” could be. I realized there are two places I cry the most. For sure in church. Partly from being so grateful and so happy with where I am in my life and sometimes when memories of the past leak out onto my cheeks. Sometimes I’m just humbled. The other time is when I fall to my knees to pray. I don’t know what it is. There’s something about going to your knees. Have you tried that? Try it! See if you feel anything different?! It’s definitely humbling.
“You were born prepacked. God looked at your entire life, determined your assignment, and gave you the tools to do the job. No one wants to live out of someone else’s bag. Then why do we? Odds are, someone has urged a force fit into clothes not packed for you. You can do something no one else can do in a fashion no one else can do it,” said Max.
This book has made me think about so many things. I still feel something “BUBBLING” inside me. Do you feel something bubbling inside you? Do you need to go sit in a church, or a quiet place or fall to your knees and listen? Do you need to remain/become curious? Do you need to have a conversation with someone who will help you process? Do you need to be bold and rediscover more about God and what He meant for your life? You know, it’s okay to believe in God. It’s okay to even talk about it. It’s okay to question and not know all the answers. (I certainly don’t have all the answers). It’s not so okay to shove it down someone’s throat and try to make them believe the way you do. It’s not okay to judge others with where they are in their journey. It’s not okay to just blow it off and hope these wonderings about life will just go away. Maybe, just maybe God can help us navigate these life questions through conversations with others? Or reading? Or praying Or going to church? Maybe, just maybe God is eager to have more of a relationship with us? Maybe, just maybe we need to reexamine our belief system and take more accountability for it? Maybe, just maybe we need to figure out our life purpose and make sure we’re living with the gifts/tools we were given.
“God packed you on purpose. For a purpose.” (Max Lucado) What is your purpose? If you’re already living it—mentor someone else in your field and step it up when you can. If not, remain open and curious until you feel something bubbling inside of you!
BOOK UPDATE: All my edits are complete. It’ll hopefully be out in September. If you’d like me to speak and/or have a book signing in your city, please email me. Stay tuned here, on my website and/or on Facebook. Title: First Date Next Mate (Perspectives in Dating the “Next” Time Around).
By: Elizabeth Lewis
Life Coach, Dating Consultant (www.loveandlaughterlifecoaching.com)
As some of you know, I’ve decided to write a book about dating…..sharing what I’ve learned while being in the single’s world, as well as from reading and talking to clients/friends. It’s very different the 2nd time around (the audience for this book will be best for 40+ 2nd time arounders (or 3rd or 4th). I’ll occasionally share excerpts here.
When I speak to groups of people about on-line dating I explain that dating is like a Consignment Shop….
- When you walk in the consignment shop (on-line site) and look at all the racks of clothes (single people), your 1st thought is WOW. Look at all these clothes (men/women). So many choices. Surely I’ll find something (someone) I’ll like.
- As you start looking though the racks (people), you find that most don’t look like your style (your type). You might say, “No way! Oh gross! Not in a million years! Eww! No way would I EVER put that on my body!” (Translation- no way would I go out with that person. I’m not at ALL attracted. Really? No teeth? 15 fishing pictures, too tall/short/young/old, etc). We all have our preferences. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a good thing we don’t all have or like the same look. Just remember that there is a human being behind that profile. They are all looking for love, like you.
- Every now and then we find one outfit that looks good. “Hmmmm….. I might try on that one.” (Translation— the wink, send a message, do you like me? I like you).
- We put that outfit over our arm and keep looking through the rack because we’re not sure how it’ll fit us (Translation- We have to keep looking and stay available because we’re not sure how that last item- person- will fit).
- Eventually we go try on the outfits. (Translation- I call this the meet-n- greet. When you go and meet for the 1st time). I suggest trying on (talking to) 3-4 at a time and not 19-20. It gets a little overwhelming if you try to juggle too many.
- We usually know right away if it is a good fit or not- if it’s not, we put it back on the rack. That outfit will fit someone else better. It’s a nice outfit. Just not good for me. (Translation- he/she wasn’t my type but he’ll/she’ll be a good fit for someone else).
- If we are not totally sure….“Well, I think this (outfit) looks OK on me… I’m not sure how it’d go with my shoes or purse (will he like my kids, will she fit into where I am with my life?) So we buy it and see how it looks over time. (Translation- Another date. Go out again and see how it feels to be with this new person. Are we in the same place in our lives?)
- Over time we see how well that outfit is made (Translation– upbringing/ baggage) Is it falling apart? Poorly made? (Translation- did his momma teach him manners. Did she learn lessons on how to be a sweet, kind lady?) Some are definitely better made than others, right? We usually like those that were made similar to us (common values, character, upbringing, etc).
- We see how we feel while wearing it (Translation- how we feel with him, how he treats us). Is it versatile in all seasons? (Observe through every season).
- We might need to resell that outfit to the shop because it didn’t look as good as you thought it did. Back to the rack because it’ll be good for someone. Still a nice outfit. (Translation- after dating him/her you see that he/she is a nice person but not going to be a forever match/fit).
- Each week, new clothes come in to the shop so it’s important to go back and look (Translation- always new divorced/ widowed/ available men/ women — stay on line and/ or stay out there. Stay available to be found).
- You might even try a different Consignment Shop…upscale, down home, best prices…. (Translation– different internet sites/ different offerings/ different people).
- You may ask…. “Why even shop? It’s SO much work. Most of the items are either junk or don’t fit right or are too old looking, etc. It takes forever to find just one item worth trying on.” (Translation: Why work so hard to find a good match)?
- The answer……because we eventually find that GOLDEN NUGGET/ GEM that fits JUST RIGHT! (The ONE. The one we can live with forever. It looks good on us. It’s well made. Looks good with our accessories and has lasted and looks good in every season).
- So…. it’s worth it because shopping (dating) is fun and the right outfit makes us feel good and the best ones last FOREVER! (If dating isn’t fun, you probably need to take a break).
So…if you’re really ready to date, keep your profile up until you go exclusive with someone. Don’t just join for a month and say, “Well, I tried that and didn’t meet anyone OR only met creeps!” Yes, you may meet some creeps or not nice people. STAY ON. The longer you do it the quicker you find out how to refine your matches and meets. You’ll just get better at reading people. Stay on, even years, as long as you’re at getting new meets/dates. It’s a great way to meet new people. It’s not the ONLY way, just one way to find others in your age range.
Alternatives to on-line dating will be in my book. Back to writing….
Resolutions or Goals? by: Elizabeth Lewis
Resolutions, huh? Do you make them? Keep them? Maybe you think this year, “I’m going to do this!” I’ve said it and heard it a thousand times.
I learned from a great friend to instead of making resolutions… make GOALS. Yearly goals. If you don’t hit them all, you don’t beat yourself up but you at least try and have something in which to strive. You can make them personal, professional, spiritual, parental, etc. Here are some ideas we could all add to our lists…..
- Be more kind to everyone you come in contact. Sometimes this is harder than you think. When someone is mean to you, it’s hard to kill them with kindness…. But when you do, it makes you feel better. Maybe a goal of saying 1 kind thing to someone NEW each day would be a good goal?
- Love yourself more. Women are famous for talking about all the body parts we don’t like (bellies, butt, boobs, legs, hair). Men, too– (losing hair, weight gain, look older). If you don’t like a feature, do what you can to change it. Truly, no one cares what you look like, anyway…..they care more about #1.
- Look for more opportunities to serve. There are ALWAYS opportunities to serve, but how many of us seize them? If you’re not sure where to look, try asking at your church (I assume there are MANY ways to serve there). Help a neighbor, a widow in need, a single mom with repairs, or an elderly man with mowing his lawn, help serve the homeless (I know of a few groups that do this weekly. I can connect you!). Thousands of ways we can serve. Maybe make a goal of 1 service project a month. Make it a family affair. Children who observe their parents serving become servants. If you’re lonely, get out of the house and serve.
- Do a better job of making boundaries. This can be in a friendship, with a family member or in a dating relationship. Gain more respect for yourself by drawing the line where you feel most comfortable. If they, in turn, respect you, your boundary will be honored.
- Read more books. We don’t have a problem reading social media for an hour or more each day. But what about a book that can pour knowledge/ enjoyment into your head? Whether this is fiction or non-fiction….. Both are stimulating, helps with stress, improves vocabulary and keeps your mind sharp. (I’m proud of my college-age son who has a goal of reading 1 book a month- on top of 19 hrs in college and running a business). This will take discipline and organization.
- Smiles are contagious. Smile more! When you make eye contact with someone, smile and say hi. I bet they’ll smile and say hi back.
- Pay it Forward. You hear about the person who pays the bill for the car behind them in the McDonalds line. Do that! Or think of another creative idea. Find ways to help others, expecting nothing in return. It will make you feel SOOOO good.
- I bet we all could think of a goal related to our cell phones. What is it for you? Maybe not checking it during a meeting or on a date, don’t text and drive, no texting at the dinner table, no more “serious conversations” over text. The list goes on. While cell phones are important to have these days, if we let it, they can get us in trouble.
- One Line a Day- a gift I gave family this year was a book called, “One Line a Day.” At the end of each day, write down one interesting fact, motivational saying, Bible verse that spoke to you, a lesson learned or just something for which you’re grateful. A journal is sometimes too time-consuming so many don’t do that anymore. But we can always write 1 line a day, right? At the end of the year, you’ll have a snippet of your year and when you’re gone from this Earth, there might be some wisdom in there for your kids/ family??? Neat idea.
- Make a list of all the things important to you. Whatever is on that list, compare that to your calendar (and/or checkbook) and see if you’re actually DOING the things that you claim are important??? Sometimes we SAY family is important, or hanging with a certain friend, or going to church….but how often do you actually DO these? So reflect on what’s important to you and find more ways to do THOSE things.
There’s something neat about saying goodbye to one year and starting a new one. I hope this new year is the new beginning you need – make it a great year—on purpose!!
To find out more about life coaching and what I do, visit my website at http://www.loveandlaughterlifecoaching.com.
Loneliness Over the Holidays
By: Elizabeth Lewis
The holidays can sometimes be tough for many….. especially (but not only) singles. If divorced or widowed, it’s one less person for which to buy. One less person in the house (Thanksgiving or) Christmas morning. Less party invites from your “couple” friends. Some have to share kids on those special days and being without your precious children on a holiday, is just tough. So, for some, it’s a sad time. What to do??? Here are a few ideas of things to think about (some of which have helped me through the years).
- Acknowledge your unhappiness/ loneliness……. grieve………and we don’t all grieve the same way so don’t compare to how others grieve. Loneliness CAN be a gift (if you allow it) because it moves you closer to God (or your higher being). Embrace that. Let it grow. Reflect. Listen. Many times, Jesus went to a lonely place to be with God. In Hebrew the word for lonely can be translated as solitude or dessert. Each day try to step toward a happier place.
- Serve others – whether it be homeless, volunteering, making handmade gifts for family or friends…. Get out of your head and “poor me” or victim frame of mind.
- Organize your own friend gatherings to have something in which to look forward (go out to dinner, the movies, happy hour drinks, a party, shopping, etc).
- Read a new book- preferably one that will stretch your thinking/ understanding about yourself. One that will make you reflect. There are SO many great self-help books out there.
- Instead of judging those around you (whether it be friends you observe dating or picking apart the men you meet or go out with)…. Turn inward and find ways you can improve YOU. Look for patterns in behavior that you want to examine. Hire a life coach (to move forward), a dating consultant (if you’re ready to date) or a therapist (to work through past issues).
- Get rid of toxic friendships……Look at the friends in which you hang out. You’re the average of the 5 people you hang out with most. Are they making you a better person? Are you making them be a better person? Raise the bar and weed out the ones who don’t support you or bring you down………..Some friends just come for a season or a random reason. They don’t all last forever.
- Learn to be open to new ways of thinking about meeting new people. Maybe examine how you think about dating (lots of perspectives out there). Maybe try on-line dating. Take a dating class where you can find a new support group and perhaps challenge your thinking. (I support people with all of these things).
- Make GOALS for the New Year. Not resolutions, but, just a list of goals you’d like to accomplish/ tackle in the New Year. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t hit them all but it’s energizing to have new goals to achieve.
- Maybe start a small group at your church. A Bible study. A book talk group. A social coffee group. A prayer group? All of these are ways to reach out to others (who may be in your same place) to support and connect.
- You’ve heard this before (and it’s SO true) … live in daily gratitude. No matter how awful your circumstance, there is SO much to be thankful! Life itself, a home, clothes, living in a free country where we don’t dodge bullets daily (although I’m watching on TV about a shooting right now, so thankful NOW that I’m safe), having more than 1 pair of shoes, a full closet of clothes, heck—dry underwear. Read my blog about Gratitude to learn about gratitude rocks. (I’ll give you one, if you’d like).
- Exercise, dance, sing (even if you think you’re not good at these things). Just doing them helps release endorphins. I bet you’ll even catch yourself smiling. Maybe even laughing (even if it’s at yourself)!
- If you’re telling yourself a sad story…. “I don’t have anyone this holiday. Who will I kiss on NYE? I’m lonely. Nobody wants to have me be a 3rd I don’t get invited to all the big parties.” Change your story. You can have your story say anything you want it to say. You ARE ENOUGH and WORTHY of love. It’s just a lonely time right now and this, too, will pass. Walk through it with a positive attitude.
- Speaking of a positive attitude—every time you hear yourself complaining or being negative, recognize it and turn it into a positive statement. For example, “Look at that “in love” couple over there. Gross. Get a room.” Say, “How wonderful. I want that and love is on its way to find me.” It will make you feel better and put positivity out in the universe. Positive begets positive. Negative begets negative.
- Don’t get caught up in FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Looking at Facebook and other social media, you look at everyone else’s HAPPY life and think, “Oh poor me! Look how HAPPY THEY are.” You have to know that everyone is fighting his/her own struggles but they just don’t post sad and bad on Facebook. (and if they do, you’ll end up “hiding” their posts because no one likes to read someone else’s negative comments).
- Work on your budget, clean a closet, clean up clutter…. you’ll feel like you’re taking control of your finances and surroundings.
- Forgive and pray- think of those you need to forgive. Mend broken fences. Ask God for forgiveness of your past transgressions. Of course, praying will always sooth a lonely heart because when it seems like everyone else has abandoned you, GOD will NEVER leave you. If you don’t feel Him close to you or that maybe He’s not listening, perhaps it’s YOU who has moved? The closer you get to Him, the better you can hear.
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Life! Count your Blessings. We are only all here for just a FEW more minutes in the BIG picture, right? Make today (and tomorrow) a great day…. on purpose.
Does Your Life Please God?
By: Elizabeth Lewis*
Even though my blog/ career/ way of living comes from a Christian perspective, I don’t often quote scripture or try to appear as too “religiousy” (although, I’m OK with that label because I AM very spiritual). I read an article today, by Heather Holleman*, that resonated with me and I wanted to share it with you. Some of the ideas/thoughts expressed here were taken/inspired from this article.
Heather asks… “Is there anything in my life that doesn’t please God?” I could immediately think of a long list that would say yes to this question. Could you? Don’t we all fall short? There are weeks that go by that I fall short daily. Galatians 5:25 it says, “Keep in step with the spirit.”
Oh, how easy it is to get caught up in the ways of the world that may not match up with the ways of the Lord. The struggle: The flesh versus God’s desires.
As we grow older we get better at reflecting on our past. We can easily see the poor mistakes, the sinful choices, the sharp use of our tongue, the guilt this brings. Hopefully, through trial and error, through a maturing faith, we can choose to straighten that once more crooked path.
How grateful I am that God has an over flowing abundance of grace! 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us of our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” But it is natural to wonder…. “Does there come a time when Jesus will stop forgiving us?” Matthew 18:22 says God (and we) should forgive “7×70.” That is 490 times!! OK… What if I sin and need to be forgiven more than 490 times? (Because I’m afraid at the age 51 that’s likely the case)….. will He still forgive me beyond that number? The answer is YES! Grace means to get something that you do not deserve; unmerited favor. As God continues to give us grace, so should we grant Grace to our adversaries.
So… back to the question, “Is there anything in my life that doesn’t please God?” Of course, there is… But each day is a new opportunity to make better decisions. To hold our tongue and not engage in gossip or malice. I know, I know. It is so easy to do and everyone else does it, so what’s the big deal? The big deal is nothing good comes from it and it becomes a poor reflection on you/us… And it’s definitely not a reflection of God working through you/us. It’s definitely a battle to swim against the current – it’s hard to make boundaries around this but this is where we can keep each other accountable. When your friend (or family member) begins speaking negatively about someone else, say, “I’d rather not talk about _____.” Or “Let’s not talk about ____ without him or her present.” You will set a healthy/godly boundary around gossiping. In the end (even though it’s hard to say), it feels good and like you’ve done the right thing. This, in turn, models how the other person can say it to others.
Some great questions that Heather wrote in her article that I’d like to share with you are;
- 1. Does this activity bring me closer to Jesus or further away
- 2. Does this activity help others know/see Jesus?
- 3. Would I be embarrassed if Jesus arrived and saw me doing this thing? Saying these things?
- 4. Is the Holy Spirit saying no and I am ignoring him? These are great questions to ask and I know some of you are thinking, “These are just not the questions that truly come to my mind when I’m wanting to share with my girlfriend about what a jerk so and so is… Or you’re not going to believe what ____did last night!” I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve engaged in gossip and saying not so flattering things about my friends. Upon reflection – I have regret/ remorse/ seek forgiveness and try to fight the battle of not engaging in that type of conversation. Might I fall short again? I might. We need to ask our friends (and family members) to help keep us accountable – only together – can we get better about reflecting the type of person God wants us to be.I have friends whose faith has weakened in their older years (older meaning older than you were at a younger age) 😄 It has a weakened because they’ve been beaten down by life’s circumstances – divorce – death of loved ones – lies – have been cheated on – gossiped about – experienced disappointments and embarrassments– failures – shaming– the list goes on, right? Lots of negativity in our culture and it’s easy to hop on that train. If someone asks you, “How do you think God feels about you right now?” you might surely hang your head low and give a list of why He’d be disappointed and ashamed.
Here’s the good news! Jesus STILL loves you and craves a relationship with you! Yes… with YOU!!! Even after having to forgive you more than 7×70 times! Take the story you’re telling yourself and flip it around. Know that you are loved – wake up tomorrow with a new mission to engage in all things good (I know the “evil” things are sometimes more fun). Feel condemned no longer – ask for forgiveness, know that it is granted and be excited to change, learn and grow. If you allow it, Jesus will continue to shape you in His image.
At the end of Heather’s article I like what she said… “But is it worth it? Is a godly life that great that it outweighs the pleasures of sin? I will tell you this: nothing – nothing – compares with the peace of the Holy Spirit and knowing you’re experiencing a close relationship with Jesus. Anything that would hinder you from God’s ways is a temporary happiness that will eventually reveal itself from what it is. ”
So, where do we go from here? Hopefully to a better place. A place that gives us confidence and knowing our decisions and the things we do, DO shape who we are, our children, people around us and ultimately our culture. Choose right over wrong, good over evil, positive over negative, sage over saboteurs. Do these things and you’ll have a joyful life and feel better about living it… in the short time we are even here on this Earth.
Happy Thanksgiving! (AND if you ever want to go to church,, contact me because I’ll invite you to mine if you’re in Louisville. Church is a great place to reconnect with God and others who are trying to redeem/ improve their actions/ behavior. If not at my church, maybe a church near you).