Iron Sharpens Iron

xemenia and her mom 026.

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” or one friend sharpens another.

I take this to mean – we need each other.  We can technically go through this separated from everyone, living like a hermit, but, what a lonely life.  We need each other to sharpen one another.  We can help one another.  We can strengthen one another.  Think about those friends, family members, teachers, mentors who have spoken into your life and made a huge positive impact on your life.  And think about those whose lives YOU have spoken into.   Sometimes we need that loving “kick in the pants” or that encouraging/uplifting word to keep going or to push us onto greatness.  Let’s face it my friends, you and I were made for greatness.  And that greatness takes on many forms.  It doesn’t necessarily mean ‘greatness’ in the form of great corporate success or Hollywood fame, though it CAN mean those things.  However, ‘greatness’ can be you quietly impacting others in your sphere.  Or greatness can involve being part of a grass-roots effort to incite change.  Greatness can be the way you raise your children to be responsible, loving human beings.  It can be a novel  you write that impacts its readers to make a difference.  Or maybe greatness can be you standing up for those who don’t have a voice.  But, be great! God has given you the ability AND he has given us community.  Let’s sharpen one another and move forward to impact the world, showing the love of Christ not only through what we say but how we live, and more importantly, how we love. Blessings.

Quote – Proverbs 27:17
Photo Credit – HERE

Make Time

Today’s post is short & sweet. Make time for those most important to you. So much of the time we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off, keeping up a very busy pace, always going-going-going. We go to work, meetings, social events, etc. But do we take time to make time for those most important to us…our families and those closest to us?

When your child asks you to play a game, or watch a show with them, or go to the store with them (a store you may not like)…. When your spouse, boyfriend, girl friend or best friend asks you to go to a certain event, or spend some time, but you’re not in the mood…. When your parents or grandparents want you to call or come by to visit, but, you’d rather not…

What do you do? Now, I’m not talking about going into any unhealthy situations. I’m talking about healthy, normal relationships. Are you going to look back on your life and say, “Wow, I wish I had gone to another meeting instead of spending time with my son/daughter.” or “That TV show was waaay more important than spending time with my friend/spouse.” Or “So glad I let my excuses keep me from seeing Grandma before she passed away.” No! Of course not.

Life is a gift and life goes by quickly. I just want to encourage you to make some time for those who matter most to you. Sometimes it takes a sacrifice on your part, perhaps doing something you don’t enjoy, but the other person loves. But when you look back on your life and the choices you made to spend quality time when it counted, you won’t be disappointed. 🙂

Toodles

Image courtesy of: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Listening…A Lost Art

 

How many times has a friend or loved one come to you with a problem, issue or life situation wanting to just vent, and the Dr. Phil in you rises up to “fix” them or their problem and give unwanted advice? Guilty.

I think by nature we want to fix things and put in our “2 cents” so that we can feel like we contributed or brought some relief to our friend in some way. In short, we want to help, but sometimes over-talking or interjecting advice where it’s not necessarily wanted can do more harm than good.  Sometimes a friend really just wants you to LISTEN. Not easy, especially if you have more of a “fixer” personality. But it’s possible to do.

Practice listening. Many times our friends or family members really just want a sounding board. And if they DO want advice or your opinion, they’ll usually come right out and ask you. But, even if they do, tread carefully…unless they tell you to “bring it”, at which point you can let loose and go into your unprofessional diagnosis of their problem.  Still…be careful. Think how you’d want someone to “bring it” to you.  Make sure it’s seasoned with “love”. 🙂

I’ve become fairly good listener. But, I’m continuously working at it. Sometimes people just need your compassion or your presence.  You know how when someone’s talking to you, you’re having a second conversation in your head simultaneously?  All of your unfiltered opinions and reactions are unbridled in this “head” conversation.  RESIST the urge to blab out your opinion. Instead, really listen to the person who’s talking. Try to empathize. When judgemental thoughts arise, push them back down, and just listen. If you’re hearing something that you know is particularly bad or harmful for that person, still just listen. Let them get it all out. Remember to engage the person while they’re talking to you.  Look into their eyes, or give the occasional heart-felt “yeah” or “uh huh” or “really?”  Give a nod of the head and let your facial expression show that you care.  Be genuinely interested.  If talking on the phone, they cannot see your face, but give verbal affirmations that you’re listening to let them know you’re there and engaged in what they’re saying. Nine times out of ten, once the person has vented, they’ll want some kind of input. Begin gently with your input and try to gauge how much feedback the person wants, needs or can handle. Sometimes you’ll know instantaneously how much feedback is desired. Sometimes the person may shut down or block you out if you’re saying something they’re not ready to hear. If that happens, back off. Maybe at a later time the environment will be more conducive for more in-depth conversation.

One last thing.  If you have a friend who can talk to you for hours and hours on end and wear you down to a puddle of mush by the time they’re done talking, protect yourself. Lol.  You want to be there for that friend, but, you also know that if you let them, bless their hearts, they would keep you in the conversation (on the phone or in person) for hours and hours rehashing the same details over and over.  Yet, you care for them and desire to “be there” for them.  Set a time parameter.  Tell them you have “x” number of minutes to talk, up front.  When that time comes around, interject with kindness in your voice and let them know you have to go, but would be available later or perhaps you can talk to them via Instant Messenger or text or on a particular day that YOU specify.  Sometimes “listening” via IM is an option.  It gives the person a chance to write out the problem (which can sometimes help on both ends – the talker’s and the listener’s).  And with writing you have to take a bit more care and be more thoughtful as typed words don’t share the emotion behind them.  Stick to the point.  If your friend’s main gripe is that they have an issue with a coworker, but, they keep wandering into other topics, as you’re listening, keep that main topic in mind.  If/when they ask for your input, OR when your time limit has come and you have to end the conversation, focus on the main issue.  Be warm, yet succinct.  Get right to the root of the issue with your input (with compassion).  Hopefully this will prevent further wandering from the main topic at hand.  And if you’re chatty friend wants to discuss ‘war and peace’, gently yet firmly remind them that you have to go, but suggest that perhaps you’d could further your conversation on the next topic of choice on another occasion.  Hope these hints are helpful.

Have a great day!
Toodles ♥

Jesus, Friend of Sinners

There’s a song called “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” by a group called Casting Crowns. I really love this song because it calls the “Church” to the carpet. We, in our organized religion have sometimes – not always – but often enough to notice, gone about sharing our faith and beliefs in Christ in a way that does more harm than good. We’ve been judgemental, critical, mean, snobbish and self-righteous. Yet, would you believe that many people are really well-intentioned? Yes, it’s true. They just go about sharing their passion for their Christian faith in not-the-best way. I’ve been there, too. I’ve acted those ways. I’m not proud of it. But, when the “light bulb” went on, I was so happy.

You see, God, He’s really amazing. He doesn’t leave us like we are. If we are in relationship with him, He brings certain things to light in our lives that need changed, tweaked, adjusted or even added-to or cut-out of our lives, and He helps us with those things. He’s awesome.

All of this doesn’t mean that if you’re a Christian, you can’t be passionate about what you believe. On the contrary. Your heart can be full of vim and verve for sharing the message/gospel of Christ. Most definitely. But, when we share with others, I think we must always remember how Christ found us…what state we were in. And if we were resistant to the message of the gospel…what was it that reached through our shields and walls and connected with us?

I personally wasn’t resistant to the message of Christ. However, I was struggling with some things personally. And what touched me the most, was a couple of friends who consistently reached out to me. They were my friends and stuck by me through thick and thin. They listened to me without judging me and they shared the message of the Bible with me in a gentle and loving way, over a period of months and years. They never watered down God’s truth, but, always shared it with me in a loving manner and through a friendship. That was how they exemplified Christ’s love to me. It was through their example that I was able to see that even if I was struggling with some things that I knew were wrong or unhealthy, Christ loved/loves me and sticks with me through it all, and helps me eventually overcome whatever it is, if I let him.

If we look at Christ’s dealings with people who were ‘unbelievers’ (this does not include the religious leaders of the day, nor folks that were already following Christ), we see that He was kind, compassionate, caring, gentle, loving, patient. He still shared truth without compromising, but the WAY he did it was key. He did it with love and compassion.

I think that we, as Christians, on the whole, are learning to share Christ’s truth & love in a more loving way. We can choose to love people and befriend people and dialogue with people whose beliefs are different from ours without judging or condemning them. We can share the gospel message of Christ with people, just like my friends shared it with me so many years ago…through friendship and in a loving manner. And if/when we disagree with people or vice versa, it’s okay. One of my former pastors always used to say “Agree to disagree agreeably”. But, at least talk. At least share. It’s not our responsibility as Christians to MAKE people believe. But Jesus said “Go! And tell the world…” So it’s our duty to share the news/message of Christ and let GOD through his Holy Spirit, do the work of working in people’s hearts and minds. What will be, will be. Sometimes you’ll share the news once. Sometimes you’ll share the news over a period of days, months or years. But just share in love. God can surely handle the rest.