Category Archives: Emotions

Making Connections – Feelings and Behavior (Part Two)

bible reading 3

In connecting feelings and behavior let’s see how these two dynamics interact. We will refer to the expert, Merriam-Webster. Behavior is defined as “the manner of conducting oneself; anything that an organism does involving action and response to stimulation; the response of an individual, group, or species to its environment.” This is where the problem often unfolds. Events happen to us throughout the course of our day that trigger an emotional response. Often that emotional response leads to a behavior tied to that response. In other words, we determine our behavior based on what we feel about that particular person, circumstance, or event.

A common example: you are driving along the freeway. Suddenly a car comes off the on-ramp merging onto the freeway. They merge right in front of you, forcing you to swerve into the next lane nearly causing an accident. You have experienced surprise, fear, and anger almost simultaneously. Taking the personal assault angrily, you pull up alongside them and offer the all too common single-finger gesture of dissatisfaction at the behavior of others. You know nothing about that other person. A variety of reasons may have caused that reaction from the other person, reasons that have nothing to do with you personally. Scripture is very clear:

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.        – 2 Corinthians 10:5

We are called to live intentionally. If that were not the case, why would God have left us the Holy Bible as a love letter from Him and clear instruction on how we should live our lives? In reality the question should not be, “Are feeling god or bad?” The better question would be, “How do we behave when the feelings come?” For heer is where we get tripped up. We are called to behave in a scriptural manner in spite of how we may feel. In scripture you will note that in spite of how he may have felt about something, he never behaved in a way that was inappropriate. Yes, the bar is high, but make that your goal.

How often do you allow your feelings to dictate your behavior? How many times do you do what your feelings tell you to do? The curious thing about feelings is that it is sometimes difficult to determine what truly triggered a particular feeling that just swept over us. Since feelings tend to be inconsistent at best it would benefit you to focus on your behavior in spite of what you may be feeling. Making healthy decisions about your behavior can have a positive impact on your negative feelings.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

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Making Connections – Feelings and Behavior (Part One)

fighting

Let’s pose a simple question, “Feelings, are they good or bad?” The most common response to this question is that overall they are a good thing. The feelings themselves may not always be good (anger, frustration, sadness), but in general they are a good thing. Certainly, when Jesus came to earth in human form, his emotions and feelings were on display. Jesus demonstrated righteous anger when the sellers were ripping off those who came to worship by charging exorbitant amounts of money to purchase the required animal sacrifices. Jesus went so far in his anger as to turn over the sacrifice tables, making them fully aware of his displeasure.

We see demonstrations of sadness and depression in the Garden of Gethsemane as Jesus agonizes over his fate. In Mark 14:34, Jesus clearly makes his feelings known: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he tells Peter, James, and John. He asks them to keep watch while he goes up a little farther to pray. Upon his return he finds them sleeping. “Are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?” Jesus shows obvious disappointment with the three disciples. There are also times of happiness recorded in the life of Jesus. If feelings are good enough for Jesus, they are good enough for me.

Whether feelings are good or bad is not really the issue. We obviously have feelings. Some of those feelings are good, while others are not so good. The core issue is not the feelings themselves. The important thing to consider is the consequences of those feelings. In other words, what do we do with our feelings? How are they demonstrated in our behavior?

Are your behaviors an extension of your emotional state? How does this dynamic affect your interactions with your spouse? What do you think might happen if you focused on your behavior rather than your feelings?

We will examine this in the next post so be sure to check back!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

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I Still Like the Biggest and Best Gift (Part I)

gift-box

It’s that time of year again when the incurably curious sift among the beautifully ornate boxes and bags littered under Christmas tree.  The gifts come in all shapes and sizes and we always envy the one with the biggest gift.  They say “Don’t be selfish, it’s the thought, not the size of the present!”  I suppose that’s human nature to want the best and the biggest, this is what society teaches us.  As a pastor, I probably shouldn’t say this, but, I concede.  Sometimes the biggest gift is the best!

Let’s step back a few months, weeks before we even ventured into this holiday season…

I came through the front door of my mother’s home. I could feel the sadness hanging over the living room like a heavy, dark veil.  My oldest of ten years sat quietly, very quietly on the sofa.  This was most unusual for a boy that typically exuded energy.  My youngest, age seven, was curled up in the over-sized easy chair, with great futility, trying to contain his tears.  Their Oma came out of the kitchen, wiping her eyes, trying to be strong for the boys but cracking under the atmosphere.  The image was in stark contrast to the joyous way the day began…

I was about to participate in an event that would fill my heart with joy!  I had the pleasure of experiencing the same excitement a scant year ago with my eldest son.  I helped him up the steps as I walked around to the side.  He found his position and sat down on the step, he looked out at all the people, there to celebrate this event with us, then he turned to me with that ever familiar smile.  In spite of occasional displays, shy he is not.  The senior pastor held the microphone out as I asked, “Is there anything that you would like to share?”  “I would like to thank everyone who came out today to see me get baptized.  I love all of you and most importantly, I love God.”  He smiled, my heart nearly burst from my chest with happiness.  The congregation was clapping, my boy was obviously pleased with their response.  “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?”  “Yes, I have.”  “Then I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.”  I leaned him back, completely submerging him for a moment, then back to his upright position.  I bent down to his ear and whispered, “I love you.” He returned my words with a big kiss. “I love you too!”

Once he had decided that he was ready to be baptized, I had shared with him more specifically the purpose and symbolism of the event.  Baptism is an outward expression of your decision to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, the lord of your life.  Although baptism does not save you, it is a testimony to others that you will strive to live your life for God and die to sin.  Your decision to accept Jesus is the key to eternity following our life here on earth.  The submersion in water represents our burial or death to self.  Coming up from the water is symbolic of resurrection into our new life with Christ.  The entire ceremony is symbolic of what Jesus did for us on the cross that most important day several hundred years ago.  Yes, even at the young age of seven, my boy understood the importance of baptism and the gift that was given to us, in spite of what we may have done.  As a believer and follower of Christ we are assured a glorious eternity with Him.  But, I digress.

After a wonderful celebratory lunch with family and friends, all were in high spirits.  At that moment, it hadn’t occurred to me that God would use the events of the day to make a practical, hard-hitting point to all.  We needed to make one additional stop.  One of our dear friends, a neighbor to my mother, whom we have known for many, many years was going through a trial and we wanted to pay a visit.  Her elderly husband was confined at home with hospice care and we thought he might like a visit from us and the “crazy kids”, they have loved our boys for as long as we have!

His wife welcomed the visit and was thrilled to see the boys, hugging us all as she took us to his room.  It is always a bit shocking to see the frailty of life thrust in your face…

This life lesson will conclude in my NEXT POST, “I Still Like the Biggest and Best Gift (Part II)

May you all be blessed as you ENJOY this Christmas Season!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.  It’s a thoughtful Christmas gift for any couple’s in your life.

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Filed under Baptism, Beliefs, Christmas, Emotions, Love, Priorities, Restoration, Salvation, Thankfulness

Is It Really ALL My Fault?

My fault

The following is a question I received from a man who has been struggling in his marriage and working at trying to do what he needs to do to make it work. Granted, he was a contributor to the breakdown of their relationship, but has been putting forth the effort to right his wrongs. This question is so common that I decided to share my thoughts on the topic, knowing there are others who struggle with this issue:

When one party in a relationship decides to make positive changes, it can create a conflict in the other spouse, they may ask questions like; “Can I trust them? What do I do with my pain? Would things be better if I left?”  Just to name a few.  Often inner turmoil pushes the focus of blame on the other person.  The question arises, “Is this ALL my fault?”

Just a quick question, my wife and I spoke yesterday and she basically told me she can’t promise me that things will work out between us, but she’ll give it some time.  In your opinion, from experience, is it all my fault that we’re in this position (and having all of these marital problems)?  That’s the image she’s describing, and I’m just wondering if that’s possible.  Could it really be ALL my fault?  

I will TRY to answer as directly as possible (for me).  Is the blame in the breakdown of a marriage ever the fault of just one member of the party?  Honestly, if that were the case, it would be the first time I have ever experienced it in my 20 plus years of counseling.  A particular choice of bad behavior in a relationship might be perpetrated by one party or the other, but those individual choices tend to be symptomatic of a greater problem and that choice of “acting out” was their way of dealing with that problem.  In other words, a person doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide to, let’s say, have an affair.  Usually you can trace backward the breakdowns (poor communication, no edification, lack of attention, lack of conflict resolution skills, etc.) that were occurring for quite some time in the marriage that led to the one party justifying a behavior like adultery, as in my example.  Once justified, the decision to act is only a matter of time unless the parties in the relationship make a joint effort to address the problem issues together, put forth the effort to change, lay THEIR (yes, plural) sinful behaviors at the foot of the cross (and do not pick it up again) and forgive the past; understanding that it took two people to create the original dynamic that lead to the offense(s).  As long as blame has priority over the desire to seek resolution there will never be the investment necessary to bring a marriage into alignment.

I apologize for out “winding” you, but you ask an explosive question, my friend.  Bottom line, I believe it takes two to make OR break a marriage.  The key to making the changes necessary to salvage the marriage requires a willingness on both parties to take responsibility for their own participation that has led to the erosion of the relationship.  God loves to work with honest and transparent people and I’ve witnessed him do nothing short of a miracle, but we ALL need to choose to participate in the healing and restoration process.

My recommendation would be to be intentional about your behavior and choose actions that show your interest in making the marriage work (emotions will lead you to destructive choices!) regardless of her making you sole blame or not.  If you are determined and prepared, do not let the decision to separate be yours, let her take responsibility and risk the consequences of such an action.  This will allow you the peace of knowing you did all you could to save your marriage and keep the family together.  Lastly, and CERTAINLY not least, keep this situation bathed in prayer (including praying for your spouse).  Just because you see no forward movement on the part of your mate does not mean that God is not trying to stir her heart.  Sometimes the way things look on the outside are not representative of what is going on inside.  At this moment she is protecting herself so as not to be hurt.  Remember, she is in pain and is not yet willing to take a chance on you.  It takes time to gather the evidence that your change is real and you will not do further damage to her.  The fact that she, “…can’t make any promises,” and that “…she’ll give it some time”, indicates that she may not be entirely ready to throw in the towel.  There may be some hope.  As you know, I can make no promises either way, but stay close to the Lord and he will give you the peace, comfort and courage you need to come out the other side of this trial.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.       Proverbs 3:5-6

Love your family, love those children.  Be blessed my brother, I love you and I’ll be praying for you both today.     – Pastor Eric

God takes marriage, a commitment not only to our spouse but to God, very seriously.  If the husband has been neglectful of his responsibilities, yet decides to put forth the effort to change and allow God to work in his heart he will only benefit.  Whether his wife has become hardhearted by her pain and chooses the path of least resistance; it doesn’t negate the husband’s responsibility to be submissive and allow God to grow him.  Remember, it’s not just about your spouse if there are children involved.  Even when divorce is likely, you still have the opportunity to be the best parent that you can.  It is not just an opportunity, it’s your obligation.

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Character, Commitment, Divorce, Emotions, Forgiveness, Leadership, Obedience, Prayer, Restoration, selflessness, Submission, Transparency, Trust

Bridging the Gap Between Lover’s and Friend’s

trust

Open and honest communication in the marriage is incredibly important. If things from your past continue to plague you and infiltrate the marriage, it is imperative that you bring them to the table. Be honest and transparent about your upbringing, about your family of origin. If these issues are not addressed your spouse will invariably be held responsible for events that he or she had nothing to do with. You may not blame them verbally, but you will punish them in your actions. Never forget that you are a team and you are to be as one flesh.

“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”    – Ephesians 5:31

This is where the importance of being safe for one another plays out. You each need to be willing to support and protect one another. Husbands, when your wives come to you to share something from their past, don’t hold it against them. Don’t say things like, “See, that’s why you are how you are!” Wives, that goes likewise for you. Cradle one another’s heart as God desires to cradle and protect you both. Husbands and wives are not just to be lovers, you are called to be friends.

His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem     – Song of Songs 5:16

Unfortunately, many relationships started with sexual involvement and the friendship aspect of the relationship was never cultivated. Now is the time to begin to explore and develop your friendship if you have not done so.

Without transparency and forgiveness a relationship is doomed to stagnation at best, destruction at worst.  It is in sharing of difficult issues that the message sender should seek God in the timing of their presentation, asking the Lord to prepare the heart of the receiver and remain patient until you are prompted to share those delicate issues.

The receiver of such information should not be reactionary, but instead also lean into the Lord to give them strength and guidance as to how best to respond (Perhaps patience is the key to responding, better to process and respond rather than explode and cause greater damage.) I understand that this is not always easy. If you feel an immediate reaction rising, take a moment and remember your own story and all the sin that you have been forgiven. Let your thankfulness for what has been done for you balance your emotional response, regardless the issue.

I pray for your strength in resolving those issues that can make (if exposed to the light and worked through with grace and mercy) or break (if kept in the dark, festering like a cancer) a relationship.

Be Blessed!

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Communication, Emotions, Forgiveness, Prayer, Respect, Restoration, Transparency, Trust, Uncategorized

Through A Windshield Dirty

Dirty Windshield

Visualize this: you are driving down the freeway in your car. It has been months since you washed it. The windshield is filthy. It has rained a few times, just enough to muddy the filth on the window. There are bird droppings everywhere, making it very difficult to see. That doggone cat that your neighbor feeds is constantly climbing all over the hood and windshield, leaving its grimy paw prints everywhere.

You get the picture. Your ability to see clearly while you drive down the freeway will be considerably impaired. Our mind is sometimes like that. During the course of our lives a variety of things contribute to what we believe about life and ourselves. The way we were raised by our parents is a contributing factor, and our religious beliefs certainly impact how we think. The negative messages we receive on our journey through life affect us. The expectations others place on us can impact as well. If we don’t assess the validity of all these beliefs and release the negative ones, our windshield (or filter) can get very dirty, affecting how we receive information. All the gunk from the past impacts how we perceive what is going on in the present. Some of what we believe about ourselves can be simply inaccurate. Can you see how our acceptance of these internal lies can affect our feelings, having a direct impact on our behavior if we simply choose to stay in autopilot? This concept directly impacts our ability to communicate with our spouse and with others.

Thoughts and feelings are directly related, and it is important to monitor our thoughts, filtering them through what Scripture teaches. So what about behavior? Let’s look again at Mark 14 when Jesus is describing how he feels about the upcoming events and the sacrifice he will make on the cross. He describes his emotional state as “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (v. 34). When he separates himself from his three disciples, he falls to his knees and prays, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (v. 36).

What we see here is a demonstration of a man with feeling. The feelings are real, honest, and easy to validate. The resulting action is the important thing to consider here. In his crying out, in no way was Jesus trying to wiggle free of his obligation. He didn’t choose to avoid the cross even though his feelings might have told him that would be best, certainly easier. No, Jesus’ behavior was consistent to what he knew was God’s will.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted. 

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Emotions, Self-Talk

LOVE and Our Emotional State

Key

Let’s take a journey down memory lane. In all likelihood, the following scripture was recited at your own wedding. Let’s revisit as I share a well kept secret,

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.        1 Corinthians 13:4-8

Do you notice anything unusual about this passage of scripture? Note that it is all action driven, contrary to what our society would have you believe. Lasting love is not emotionally fueled, although feelings are certainly produced. What this tells me is that a healthy, long-lasting and loving relationship is based on my desire to put forth the necessary efforts to keep it healthy. I do not determine my effort by what I feel like doing.  Oh, yes I know, that’s NOT really a secret.  But you’d think it was!

Bill comes home after a grueling day at the office; nothing came off as planned. His head wouldn’t stop pounding. His computer was being its normal stubborn self. The traffic on the way home was horrendous. In general, Bill feels lousy. He pulls into the driveway and walks up to the front door. Now Bill has a decision to make. He has a choice. He can walk through the front door and meet his family behaving exactly how he feels—cranky, agitated, and aggressive, dumping that anger on his wife.

How do you think that delightful presentation will be received? She will shoot back with both barrels, taking all of Bill’s behaviors in a personal way. After all, she is the new target of his aggression. What alternative does she have? He attacked her. That just makes Bill angrier, so he escalates the confrontation. His voice increases in volume, and maybe he throws down his briefcase for dramatic effect. Offended, she comes right back at him. So the conflict escalates right up the scale! Bill’s feelings dictated his behavior, to his disadvantage, and the unfortunate recipients were his family.

Here’s an alternative scenario. Bill stands at the door, feeling lousy but aware of it. He decides that regardless of how he feels, he is going to demonstrate love and affection toward his wife and family. Bill enters his home and gives his wife a kiss and tells her how much he loves her. How do you think that reception will be met? If she is monitoring her behavior (maybe she had a rough day with the kids, etc.) the odds are great that she will respond to her husband’s loving display and reciprocate. That will affect Bill’s emotional state in a positive fashion, actually reducing some of the aggression. Then he reciprocates and back and forth it goes. Bill begins to feel those negative emotions dissipate.

You might say to yourself, that’s just being fake! No, it is you doing what is right by your spouse, which in the end has the potential for great benefit for you. Do you enjoy conflict in your relationship? Keeping your feelings in check is a very practical way of facilitating that goal.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.       – James 3:17-18

Being aware of your emotional state and choosing your behaviors is one method to restore some peace in the relationship.

©2014 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Emotions, Love

Say What You May, Marriage Still Sets the Best Example to Children

Children imitating parents

Modeling a healthy marriage is the greatest gift you can give your children, who in all likelihood will take the same journey as their parents.

Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.     – Malachi 2:15

I’ve heard the story countless times.  The marriage is struggling with countless issues, none of which ever seem to get addressed.  They continue down the same road, “Today was a pretty good day, I’ll just keep my mouth shut and not make waves.”  Tomorrow, all hell breaks loose as the verbal assaults fly with zero regard to the little ears that are taking in all of the turmoil.  The little ears that are internalizing the events and coming to only one conclusion, “I must be responsible (or at least partially) for the constant fighting that takes place between my mommy and daddy.”  Young children are very egocentric, everything revolves around their perception of the events in life.  Afterall, they only have a few years of experience to draw from.

What example are you setting in your marriage? Sons look to their fathers to learn how a man is to behave. Daughters watch their mothers very closely to determine the best ways to interact with the opposite sex. If petty bickering, infidelity, verbal abuse, and constant talk of divorce is your model, you will see the same patterns on display in their own relationships. Children learn well and will follow your example if they don’t choose to do something about it. Consider: how often do you respond based on the example that you were shown growing up? As parents, we are always being observed. Remember that!

I encourage you mom and dad, get the help you need.  Put aside the past and focus on the future.  Get a mediator who is interested less in your individual “happiness” and more on the success of your marriage, which will produce far more than a situational emotional response.  Doing the work, practicing forgiveness, and focusing on the issues that resist resolution are essential and will go far in protecting your legacy to the future.

You don’t have to do it alone.  Get a counselor who shares your values and has the best interest of you, as a couple, at heart.  Here is a great place to start!  Find a counselor in your area:

The American Association of Christian Counselors website @ http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Conflict Resolution, Divorce, Emotions, Forgiveness, Parenting, Role Modeling, Unity

Pastor, NOT Perfect

shut up

Yes, God can speak in a whisper or a roar.  In this instance He wasn’t waiting long for me to pick up on the subtlety.  I want to share a conviction lesson that I received recently with hopes that you can all learn from my lesson.

So, I decide that on my way into the office that I am going to make a stop at my favorite restaurant and grab a bite to eat and sort out the agenda for the upcoming day.  Upon being seated and placing my order, I pull out my phone to begin work.  Suddenly, I am disturbed by one of two gentlemen sitting in a booth on the other side of the restaurant.  Apparently his voice modulator was on the fritz.  In a bold and boisterous tone, completely filter-less, he proceeds to unload a barrage of obscenities that begins to fill the restaurant like a dark and ominous cloud.  He appears to be angry, not at the man that he is seated with, but just angry.  Out it flows, “…and then that  %#@*&?!  tells me that he’s…what the  %#&?%@  am I supposed to do with…does he think I’m some kind of  %*#$@%!”

I can feel the hair rise on the nape of my neck.  Deep inside me begins to stir that old reliable (but sometimes misplaced) sense of justice.  “What is wrong with this guy?”  I glance up at the counter where sits two other gentleman, one older Caucasian man with white hair, the other a younger Hispanic man, who, moments prior were engaged in a quiet conversation.  Looking around the restaurant I notice another couple, having what they intended to be a nice relaxing breakfast.  The peace of their communication is shattered by the bellowing of this cyclone of profanity.  And so the barrage continues.

One of my first emotional responses was to walk straight up to this guy and tell him to either shut his mouth or at least lower his voice so that the rest of us don’t have to listen to him.  The sarcastic part of my nature (I prefer to refer to it as “my gifting” – that too is sarcasm!) wanted to yell across the room, “It’s too bad that you used up all of your intelligent words when you were younger and now you are scrapping the bottom of the barrel!”  Then, as if to justify the anger that was growing in me, I thought, “You are so lucky I don’t have my kids with me…!”  I was fully aware that my expression and mannerisms were communicating just as loudly as if I had actually said the words.

Then he utters this diatribe as if to judge the one that he is referring to, “I don’t know what the @%$*# is the matter with her!  It’s like she’s some kind of an idiot!  That stupid #$@&*! just says the first thing that crosses her mind, she just says it and doesn’t think twice!”  In utter amazement I took in the content of what this oblivious man just said.  As if unable to control my response, I laughed…out loud.  I caught myself, albeit too late, and looked up at the counter.  The white-haired gent was looking at me, shaking his head and rolling his eyes as if hearing what this guy had just said and acknowledging in agreement with my response.

Moments later, they got up, paid their bill and left the restaurant.  The angry fellow, seemingly unaware of how he had affected the ambiance of the restaurant and, more importantly to me, how he had affected my breakfast.

Then it happened!  I felt it!  A sudden tugging of a different kind, starting deep and subtle,  growing to awareness as it came over me.  Mind you, my responses described earlier were in my head (things in the moment that I wish I had done or said), they had not escaped the thought level and ventured into the verbalization phase.  It’s true…I had been caught!  The conviction cut me like a newly sharpened dagger.

First off, I’m laughing at how judgmental this guy was toward the lady of which he spoke, all the while being totally ignorant of his own bad behavior.

Second, in my head I’m holding this guy to my Christian moral code of ethics.  Was he even a Christian?  I would doubt it by his behavior (I’m sure you see the personal irony there).  If he were not a believer he is not held to that standard…but I am!

Third, in my nonverbal communication and my laughter at this guy, did I encourage the others in the restaurant to partake in my questionable attitude and behavior?

Fourth, although I didn’t verbalize (per se) my emotional responses, was I not guilty of having a critical spirit?

I allowed arrogance to control my thoughts, that’s the long and short of it.  Scripture is clear on that topic.  I also forgot a very important scripture as I got caught up in the situation.

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.     -James 4:17

Ouch!  I am not condoning the man’s bad behavior, this lesson was not for him, it was about me!  Would I have affected in a positive way the situation had I confronted him?  Not likely, he was already angry and that would probably have antagonized him further and no doubt fueled my frustration.  There were only a handful of adults in the restaurant, did they require my protection, probably not.  I had already assessed the situation regarding the presence of children and there were none.  You see, this became about me, my righteousness!  I forgot, for the moment, that Jesus Christ went to the cross for BOTH of us.  You see, without Him we are not so different.

After some assessment, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I chose the response I should have chosen at the outset, I prayed for the man.  We are ALL a work-in-progress, so don’t give up when you give in to bad decisions.  Lay it before the Lord and ask Him for the strength and courage (and reminders) to keep it all “in check”.  Sometimes it’s tough to take the high road.  But remember, choosing to take the Holy road rather than the common one is never about taking the path of least resistance.

P.S. Never be too old to learn and it doesn’t matter who you are.  After all, I’m a pastor, NOT perfect.  Lesson learned!

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Comments Welcome!

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Emotions, Obedience, Role Modeling

Being Bullied: It’s Not Just For Children

Bullying

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.    Proverbs 27:17

My current post is a bit off the beaten path. I received an email from an adult female expressing a very real (and all too common concern) that she has been experiencing. After obtaining her permission, she has allowed me to share the email and my response in hopes that it may help someone else who is dealing with a similar situation. To her I say, “Thank You,” as she does her part to fulfill Proverbs 27:17

“Hi Pastor Eric I need some advice. I seem to be getting bullied and as funny as that sounds, I don’t know how to handle it “God’s way”. I noticed it with my husband’s sister and co-workers. They would do stuff to me on purpose and because I don’t know how to respond in a way that would be pleasing to God, I don’t say anything. I can honestly say I understand why people commit suicide because of being bullied. I used to bully a girl in my B.C. (before Christ) days, so is this my weakness now. I feel I can’t respond to them because it’s not going to come out nice and I don’t want to later apologize for any rude behavior. I need some advice on what to do because I feel like throwing in the towel and calling it quits.”     – Anonymous

Throwing in the towel IS NOT an option for those who have their strength from God but, I do understand the feelings. This simply requires some assertiveness on your part. Remember, they are probably being consistent in their behavior. Being rude should not be an option for you, you’ll just look (and feel) like a jerk and nothing will be accomplished. These situations call for us to do what is right. Be civil, but firm.

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.  – Proverbs 29:11

There is certain behavior that you should not tolerate because it is disrespectful to you. Before approaching the issue, I would recommend you take it under prayerful consideration. Ask the Lord to show you how you may be provoking this type of behavior in others (bad attitude, sarcasm, teasing others, etc.). Assess yourself first and make sure your motives are pure. The Lord will guide you in the direction to go.

In the practice of assertiveness, I would let them know that you do not appreciate such behavior (Assuming you don’t treat them with equal disregard) and you do not treat them in such a manner. Do not be preachy or condescending; simply express how you feel about it (without demonstrating those feelings). If the behavior continues, it is time to set some boundaries. You might need to share the situation with your supervisor or minimize your interactions with the offending party. If the offender is family, make sure you share the situation with your husband, it’s important that he is aware (he can only support you in what he knows) so that you do not appear irrational in your behavior.

I am not of the opinion that you are “reaping what you’ve sewn”. You have grown since your pre-Christian days (or you wouldn’t even be bothering to ask the question in the first place! The Holy Spirit is speaking to you, wanting you to do the right thing (more evidence of growth). Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that you are called to be intentional in your actions. In other words, don’t let your feelings dictate your behavior; choose to behave in a Godly manner in spite of what you may be feeling about the person or the circumstance.

I would also encourage you to keep these folks in your prayers; obviously they have damage that drives such behaviors and need healing as well. This is a good place to start. Keep your feelings under control and do not simply react. Think about your presentation before you approach these people. Ask yourself, “How would I respond if someone spoke to me the way that I am about to speak to them?” Adjust your presentation accordingly. Do not even broach the subject if you are feeling intense feelings of anger or frustration, it will not go well!

I pray that God is with you as you address these circumstances. Remember, you are not in this alone. Be blessed!
– Pastor Eric

A few days later came a follow-up message:

“Good morning Pastor Eric! I just had to share this with you! I got prayed for by a pastor visiting my church. He told me, “Not to fear, it’s not part of my personality…” I love that he threw that in there. It was so encouraging to hear this reminder that He is with me.

 Well, last night I get a text message at 12:00am from the coworker that I have been having all my problems with, the one that has been treating me so rudely.  She sent me a link to an encouraging video and added. “Sorry, I know you are sleeping, but I’m trying so hard to seek God. This is what I do (referring to the link), listen to the Word at night.” She said that her mom and brother attend church and are praying for her as well. This was so powerful to me that it caused walls to be broken down! I can’t express how excited I am that she reached out to me! I am so grateful that I didn’t respond to her in a negative way prior to this. Glory be to God! Thank you for your encouragement and simply being there pastor.”     -Anonymous

Important take-away, one never knows what others are struggling with or how God is trying to work in them. It is in the best interest of God to be obedient and submissive to his authority. There is great danger in taking on the role of accuser, jury, judge and executioner. Seek Him first and asses our own behavior and motivations before we act. Let your emotional drive take a back seat to your display of godly behavior. It’s better to be used by God to lift someone up rather than used by the enemy to tear someone down.  There is much to be learned by all, thank you Lord for teaching us.

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

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Filed under Assertiveness, Behavior, Bullying, Character, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Emotions, Obedience, Respect