Sunday, June 8, 2014

The one advice I wish we would stop giving to Newlyweds!

There are many advice we give to newlyweds that just make me cringe...know your place/role in your marriage, always be joyful, always be beautiful for him, don't create drama for him/her and on and on it goes. But the one advice that gets me every time is: Never Go To Bed Angry! 


Of all the "Rules" that we try to impose on newlyweds this is probably the hardest to live by. This advice is setting couples up to fail and feel like failures every single time they become angry and cannot resolve the fight in the same day. If you're anything like me, your conflicts with your partner will not be resolved in the same night. Sometimes conflicts begin at night because that's often the only time of the day we get to check in with each other.

The biggest problem I have with this advice is, we make anger out to be an evil force that will destroy anyone and anything in its path. Anger is a natural emotion that's felt when our boundaries are crossed, when our feelings are hurt, when are lives are in danger. Anger is as natural as all of the other emotions; joy, happiness, contentment etc. These emotions make us human, reminding us that we're not robots going through life without ever experiencing feelings. We're humans with the ability to feel, to laugh, to cry and be angry.  

Anger is not a bad emotion for newlyweds to feel, true emotions give us an opportunity to connect authentically with each other and newlyweds need to learn how to be real and authentic with their new mates especially when anger boils.

It's what newlyweds do with the anger that will make a difference in their marriage.

Instead of saying Never go to bed angry, maybe we should say: in your anger don't make any permanent decisions. In your anger do not hit under the belt. In your anger, Do not say things that can't be easily forgotten. In your anger somethings should be off limits.

It is perfectly okay to get a time-out to sort out the thoughts and feelings underneath the anger.  And forcing newlyweds to resolve conflict before going to bed might make matters worse because they have not not had enough time to think through and process the feelings.  Sometimes the feelings one experience during an episode of anger are so raw that deep and meaningful conversations cannot be achieved at that very moment.
Newlyweds need to be loving enough to give each other space to process without demanding a resolution right away.

And lastly, just as we love experiencing all of the other emotions and lavish in them, we need to give each other the grace to feel angry without being admonished or shamed. In grace we are able to handle each other's anger with honor, respect, by listening and paying attention to each other's needs; now that's love.

So let's do better than passing on unrealistic advice to newlyweds.  Let's give them advice that will help them mature as a couple in their unique partnership.  

So your turn, what newlywed advice do you wish we would stop giving?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Finding Your Purpose (Part 1: Are You Ready For your Purpose?)

"When change winds swirl through our lives, especially at midlife, they often call us to undertake a new passage of the spiritual journey: that of confronting the lost and counterfeit places within us and releasing our deeper, innermost self-our true self. They call us to come home to ourselves, to become who we really are." When the Heart Waits-Sue Monk Kidd

We often hear people talk about finding their purpose as if it's this elusive thing that's out there, a concept that has nothing to do with who they are now and from the past. Of course I disagree, finding your purpose is not just something that's out there that you need to chase but more of something that's presently in you and has been with you in the past.  Your life then and now are the biggest clues to living the life you were created to live.  

The biggest challenge is not finding it or realizing it but are you ready for it.  Contrary to popular school of thought, I don't think all of our time is now.  I grow very leery of motivational speakers telling their audiences that their time is now and all they need to do is to step into their destiny.  I don't think we're all ready for living a life of purpose. Not just yet. Some things must first take place before we can get there.  We must be properly positioned to receive and live out God's purpose for our lives.  But we must all be willing to live and daily walk into becoming.  

 Living a life of purpose is not something that can occur overnight but it is a process that requires patience and perseverance. 

Life is the greatest teacher of finding your purpose and if you can't do the time and go through the process and faithfully walk one foot in front of the other, your purpose will continue to be out there and you will miss the magic of discovering what has always been with you.  Living a life of purpose requires honesty as you relate to God, self and others.  But before finding that purpose you must be ready.  

I remember for many years I was impatient with the process.  I would wrestle with God.  Disappointed with myself for missing out on opportunities.  Mad at the world for being unfair for narrowing my options.  But the truth is I wasn't ready.  I had many fears holding me back.  I would succumb to the trap of comparison over and over again and that trap kept telling me: you're not as good as so and so.  I had some personal pains that needed to be addressed.  I had childhood insecurities that continually made me feel like I was 12 all over again.  But I was blind to all of those things and I kept blaming my lack of purpose on others. 

So my question for you is: are you ready to start taking steps into your purpose?  

If so, here are some suggested questions and challenges to ponder to ensure your readiness:
  1. Be honest about your fears.  The longer you allow your fears to drive you, the less likely will you be able to realistically engage in the conversation of your purpose.  Do you have a fear of failure? A fear of not being financially secure? A fear of not measuring up to your family's definition of success?  Take a honest evaluation of your fears.  Write them down and address them one by one.
  2. Get over the trap of comparison. If there is one thing that keeps us from fully living in our purpose it has to be the trap of thinking we have to do it as good as so and so.  I'm so sick and tired of seeing Michael Jordan and Lebron James comparisons.  It's the most bizarre thing I have ever seen, comparing 2 different people from 2 different families, with 2 different unique experiences, with 2 different stories and expecting them to have the same results.  Please stop it.  We're not meant to be the same.  That's all I'll say on this but if you're stuck in this step, you need to address this before and during the journey of realizing your purpose.
  3. Address any personal pains.  I can't tell you how long I nursed personal pain.  And the longer I nursed it, the farther away I moved from my purpose.  Personal pain can also be the trigger that propels you into your purpose. So don't waste your pain.  You can either nurse it or use it as a teacher into the journey of living in your purpose. 
  4. Address the pain of your childhood.  Ok this one might seem far fetched but hear me out for a second.  Many of us are running around in circles because we have unresolved childhood traumas where we created false selves as defense mechanisms to cope.  We are people pleasers, drama queens/kings, damsels in distress, and on and on.  Sue Monk Kidd says: "By naming the inner patterns that imprison us, we come to know them more fully and obtain a certain power over them".  Get to know your false selves, name them and heal from them.  
  5. Let go of control.  Or be willing to let go of control.  If you're in the least bit interested in finding your purpose, you have to let go of control.  Rather than having your hands tightly gripped around your dreams, you must be willing to have your hands wide open for God to give and to take.  Many of us are not at all comfortable with this hands wide open position but in order to get to a place of living a purposeful and meaningful life, we can't be afraid of losing control.      
So go for it.  Take some time to assess where you are on this journey of finding your purpose.  Are you ready to start realizing your purpose?  

Take a step!