Unsubscribe: 6 things you should unsubscribe from your life.

I’m in a mode right now.  I have been cleaning up my email life by “unsubscribing” from all kinds of stuff.  Restaurants, retailers, and random businesses are the latest victims to my shedding off of my email weight.  It’s not that I am boycotting them.  I’m just done.

This is going to sound petty, I’m tired of hearing notifications throughout the day that distract me for no good reason. I wasn’t even reading them anymore.  I was just tolerating them, discarding their info, and yet doing absolutely nothing about it.   

I’m taking back my email (even though most people don’t use it…most of my interaction takes place over social media). I’m done with superfluous crap that takes up time, attention, and screen space. 

So many of us are tolerant of ridiculous situations in our life that have claimed to much time, attention, and well, space in your life.  Like my ridiculous metaphor, I’m not asking you to boycott people per se.  I’m not asking you to unfriend/unfollow them (even though that’s necessary sometimes),  but it’s time to develop healthy boundaries in your life.  Proper boundaries aid you in keeping out unhealthy influences. They are about taking responsibility for our own lives.  Your marriage needs healthy boundaries.  Your kids need them.  Your personal life needs them.  Boundaries are necessary for a self-controlled, God-honoring life. And sometimes those boundaries are the necessary means to cut off the intimate connection to things/people who have no desire to help you but tear you down. 

James 2:1 (MSG)My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith.

I want you to cut the umbilical cord that these things/people have been using to feed off of your joy. Scripture says “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” The goal of these things/people is to control you!  It’s time to keep your joy and say goodbye to the stuff you don’t need.

Today is your day to unsubscribe to these 6 types of people:

1. The Critical.  Aggressive and deadly.   These things/people have something to say about everything and cannot be happy for anyone else.  Unless the idea and/or solution came from them, it’s not worth entertaining.  These type of people have something crass to say about everything…even if it’s a little jab.  They cannot help but be critical.

2. The Discouragement. From people, to news outlets, discouragement is everywhere.  Sometimes it’s not as aggressive as the critical. Discouragement’s M.O. tends to be a slow death to your joy.  It constantly whittles away at your joy.  Think of having a full pool.  The more you entertain discouragement in your life, the more it is emptying the pool out till you have nothing left but a hole in the ground.  An empty pool is purposeless.  And that’s what a lifestyle of entertaining discouragement feels like…purposeless.

3. The Drama.  People with drama issues love company.  Why?  Without the company of others, it’s just a one-person show.  And, usually, that’s a tough thing to pull off.  Drama sucks you in to not just a story-line, but desires you to take on a role.  To entertain drama in your life is like attending a casting call and your are the director’s favorite choice for the part.  Back away. Let the curtains close.  This part is not for you.

4. The Campaigner. Call them gossips and/or slanderers.  This is a close cousin to “drama.” The difference is, these are people who don’t necessarily want to pull you into the drama.  It’s just they can’t keep their mouth shut about information they’ve come across.  Like having poison ivy, they’re trying to itch what they have whilst spreading it around.   It feels good to get info.  In fact, you feel powerful.  But in the end, you wind up realizing what you possess not only poisons your mind, it poisons your relationships.

5. The Instigator.  They know what button to press.  They know when to press it.  Like Buddy the Elf in the elevator of the Empire State Building, The Instigator wants to press as many buttons in your life and then step away while you sit in your hurt, anger, frustration, and/or embarrassment.  These people want to start a fire without the responsibility of dealing with the fire.  They are relational arsonists.   Smokey the Bear says “only you can prevent forest fires.” I’d say, “Only you can prevent the spread of relational fires.”

6. The One-Upper. The “One-Upper” will never let you be in a place of joy because what you have doesn’t compare to what they possess.  You can’t share celebration points, success stories, and/or the blessings God has given to this person.  Why?  Because they’re prepared to squash it.  He/she cannot handle letting someone have something he/she doesn’t possess.  The catastrophic results to your life is the more your joy is stifled, the more apt that your joy will be completely blown out. 

I’m not asking you to stop influencing people like these 6.  Like you and me, they are candidates of the redemptive power of Christ.  Like you and me they’re imperfect and need to see the continual work of the Holy Spirit to help them ever single day.  But it’s time to unsubscribe to their influence. It’s time to stop giving them the time, attention, and space in your life.  As I said before, I want you to cut the umbilical cord that these things/people have been using to feed off of your joy.  Why? Because what influences affects “how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith.

It’s time to unsubscribe.  It’s time to take back your life.  

Thanks for letting me ramble…

 

7 Habits of Highly Defective Marriages: Part 4 Criticism

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Three weeks ago, we started a new series of seven blogs designed to recognize unhealthy habits. If you missed the last three weeks check out our first THREE Highly Defective Habits:

Habit #1: Spiritual Continuity.

Habit #2: The Single Life

Habit #3: The Fun-less Couple

Here we go…#4 on the list of my 7 Habits of Highly Defective Marriages:

Defective Marriage

Habit #4: Criticism Floods

crit·i·cal/ kritikəl
adjective: expressing adverse or disapproving comments or judgments
Synonyms: disapproving, scathing, fault-finding, judgmental, negative

Luke 6:37:38 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.” 

Of all the ways there are to die (not that I’m looking for one), drowning has got to be ranked up there as one of the most miserable ways to go.  Yet I find there are so many spouses drowning their spouse by flooding them with criticism.
You and your husband/wife have the ability to overwhelm each other with such critical (disapproving, scathing, fault-finding, judgmental, negative) words that it can cause an emotional shut-down.  That emotional collapse can result in a detachment within your relationship. When one of you brings on a sudden barrage of criticism, you leave your spouse feeling shell-shocked.  The results: disengagement and often, over time, leads to contempt.
Defective marriages have at least one individual that constantly speaks with a critical tongue. Criticism, if not handled is a form of emotional violence.  It’s used as an attack against the character of the other. The tongue is an open faucet that will beat down your spouse leave your partner broken down, gasping for emotional and mental “air.” In most cases, they’re going to be reaching out to something or someone for a fresh breath to breathe into them.  What is sad is the breath they need should be coming from their spouse.
The Gottman Institutes says criticism is “a wish disguised…a negative expression of real need.” What needs to be done is to shut off the valve of criticism and YOU take responsibility for change.  Instead of unloading all blame, you begin to own the wish/need and help shoulder the responsibilities at hand. Critical spirits fractures the oneness between you and your spouse.  Introspective and humble hearts heal and fortify your marriage.
According to Luke 6, stop “picking on” your spouse with criticism.  Shut off the valve.  Give your marriage some air and let the introspection and humility breath life back into your marriage.  If you do, watch life come back into the eyes of your husband/wife.
Stop being defective.  Stop being so critical.
Thanks for letting me ramble…
(for more on criticism, check out my post from last year called “The Bold and the Beautiful“)

Under-appreciated: Building a Culture of Appreciation

Dave and Anne diagonal

I got a text from Anne the other day. She’s been getting in the habit of dreaming/thinking about marriage blogs during her running times (I’m beginning to rub off on her).  She’s begun to make a list of needed topics for our weekly marriage blog.  Today was first on her list.

It amazing me how often this subject comes up.  Whether it’s someone talking about their job, their volunteer work, or a sensation in their family, there are so many people feeling under-appreciated. Of all places, marriage shouldn’t be one of those places.

When it comes to marriage, both husbands and wives should be thankful and appreciative of their spouse.  But I feel it should be more often.  I added the “more often” because I’m willing to bet that most of you reading this are already appreciative of your spouse . Like me,  perhaps there’s also room for improvement. About a month and a half ago, I preached a message on “encouragement” and I feel I can’t get that message out enough.  And I believe part of “encouragement” is showing appreciation.

My question for you today: Are you building a culture of appreciation.

Here’s what I mean.

I’ll admit that I’m not always appreciative of Anne…at least not as much as I could be.

For example:
– There are days when I tell her how much I appreciate her. These are our “cheesy” moments!
– There are days when I appreciate the things Anne does to make my life easier…but I just don’t tell her that. I’m not sure why. I figure she already knows how I feel anyways.
– There are days when Anne’s less than desirable qualities overshadow her desirable qualities and I am clearly NOT appreciative of anything at that moment.

I know I should be doing more of the first statement, But I don’t. Why? Well, the reasons vary. I may be tired. I may be grouchy. I could be too stubborn because I want to be complemented first.  Anne may be in a bad mood. We may have gotten into an “disagreement”. I may just not feel like it because of all of the aforementioned reasons. In other words, I’m human; I act less than an ideal at times. Not a cop-out, just a fact.

How do we make our spouse feel under-appreciated? 

1 – Take for granted what they do.  It seems like after the “honeymoon” phase of life, we stop noticing what our spouse does.  Whether their job, things around the house, or stuff that involves the kids, stop noticing how hard they work.

2 – Feel entitled to the little things.  Entitlement give you a superiority complex with your spouse.  And that doesn’t feed the oneness of the marriage.  It rips it apart.  “I’m entitled to __________…she/he’s my spouse!  I shouldn’t have to ask for  ________”  Guard yourself from entitlement.

3 – Make sure you deserve more.  This is where you see that your spouse has had a rough day but, you build up your day as to say, “you think you had it bad, you didn’t have to deal with what I did today.” Not only have you missed the opportunity to pour healing into your mate, you’ve selfishly diverted any appreciation and encouragement that was needed for them back onto you.  I’m not keeping you from feeling appreciated.  BUT some people struggle with other people being blessed besides themselves.  Be other-centered.

3 – Criticism. Some people, I think, don’t really hear how pessimistic they are.  Maybe they don’t realize that criticism is the first thing to come out of their mouth. “We’ll I don’t want them to get a big head”, or “I don’t want their hopes to build up” or even better, “I’m just keeping it real.” I’ll give ya a TRUTH: Criticism without encouragement isn’t help.  It’s abuse. Let the Holy Spirit do the job of keeping them humble.

Ephesians 4:29  Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. That word “edification” means the act of promoting other’s growth. With your words and actions of appreciation, you are literally building them up and promoting growth in their life.

I want to give you another TRUTH:  Everyone needs to feel appreciated. In your marriage, this is so, so extremely vital. When one spouse feels under-appreciated, things go awry. And the crazy thing is, you may not even realize this until they mention it. I don’t always realize I’m like this until Anne and I have both alluded to the fact that we didn’t feel appreciated by the other for one reason or another. At this point, whoever was the listener goes into “damage control” and offers a “token appreciation.” The problem is I don’t like the idea of responding after-the-fact to things. I’d rather be proactive in every area of my life (or at least I do my best to be proactive). And proactive means telling my wife how appreciative I am of her so she doesn’t think otherwise (and vice versa). Citing examples of what specifically she does — the little things or the big things — is even better. (It shows I’m not just parroting empty marriage advice.) It’s funny too, to see my husband’s reaction when I do tell him how much I appreciate him, because it catches him off guard at first but then he appreciates me for saying it. It’s a nice feeling.

Some ways to express appreciation: 

1 – Speak appreciation; communicate it so they can hear it.  Most of you know what language your spouse hears.  Is it physical touch?  Is it words of affirmation? Gifts? Whatever language they speak, express appreciation back to them.  Cite examples.  List them out.  This tells them (1) you cared enough to notice something and (2) you cared enough to give appreciation in a language he/she understands.

2 – Plan out appreciation. Get a baby sitter and plan an evening out together as pure appreciation for your spouse.  Better yet, plan a weekend away WITHOUT kids. Make the plans about what your spouse would enjoy the most.  Appreciation is where the line “it’s the thought that counts” really rings true. It doesn’t have to be an expensive plan. Just the fact that there is a plan carried out and expressed will do so much.

3 – Live out appreciation; make it a daily habit! Be proactive with appreciation in your marriage! Tell them how much you appreciate them daily. Don’t give a token “thank you” but specifically cite examples. “I really appreciate when you do _____” , or even,”Thanks for doing _____. I really appreciate it!”  By doing so, you ensure you have a spouse who feels appreciated and who more than likely, will reveal their appreciation of you in return.

Remember this last TRUTH: An appreciated spouse always makes for a happier spouse!

Thanks for letting me ramble…