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Monday, July 23, 2007

Love is not Free

Hello's good to be back.

I've been helping a family for the last few days as well as dealing with some TMJ issues. I haven't been able to write and I've missed you!

Today's thought may be long, but I promise it will help you.

I'd like to talk to you about one of the major dragons that destroy relationships. We live in a society that worships the God of freedom. We have a huge mess in our government and social interactions because we promote the idea that everyone must be free to do anything they choose.

Freedom is a wonderful thing. We all need to feel the wind in our face and the sun on our backs. We need those moments in life when we don't have a care in the world and instead feel like we could soar. Great moments. But that's the problem - it should and must be just moments.

When you get the idea that the entire span of your life should be free - you become selfish and your life will be riddled with bad relationships and lonely unfulfilled goals. NO ONE can be totally free. That doesn't exist.

Why? Because the old saying is true. "YOUR FREEDOM STOPS WHERE MINE BEGINS." And if you don't believe that, you become the only free person on the planet.

In a love relationship, whether it be parent to child, boyfriend to girlfriend, girl to girl, employee to boss, member to pastor, citizen to government - no matter what the relationship true freedom doesn't exist.

"But Debbie, that can't be fair. We all need someone we can bear our souls to. We all need to be honest and truthful. Are you saying there is no one that can know our inner thoughts?"

You got it. At least no one here on earth can be totally free with us. You do understand that I am talking about "total freedom". I'm not talking about the secrets we have with our friends or the honest bare most of it talks with a loved one. I'm talking about the kind of "total freedom" that speaks total honesty never taking into consideration another person's feelings.

"Well, who does that?"

A lot of people. In fact, that's where most feelings are hurt and where most arguments begin. We say something that we think is being honest and the recipient gets hurt. Or we are angry about our jobs and so we take it out on our spouse or the children or the house. We really don't care about the messy room, but we fuss because we are mad about our job. That's when the family unit begins to suffer. The person imposing the hurt now feels guilty and screams, "Ahhh....I can't be honest with you." or "Why can't I find someone that will let me be me? Why can't I find someone that understands my pain and let's me just vent?"

Because my uninformed friend - that kind of battered sounding board doesn't exist.

When in your anger or frustration or simply irritated personality you say something that hurts the person listening - or that they take personally because it may apply to them - you instantly change the relationship.

For example, a young man is weight conscious. He is walking down the mall with his fiance. He sees a 9-month pregnant woman and remarks angrily, "How can someone look at that and not be disgusted? She looks horrible. I wish people like that would stay home." It's not directed at the fiance and when she is appalled by the remark, he says - "Well, when it's our baby it will be different." Will she ever forget it? Probably not.

Will she be stressed out and worried when she is pregnant? Probably. (Should she go ahead and marry that jerk - no way! - it's sad, but this example is real.)

In order to navigate through relationships, we must understand some very important realities.

STOP - CHANGE GEARS - This blog is about the offending person. Let me stop and say this for the listener. It is important that you understand that there will be times when someone does need a simple "poor baby". They have been hurt or offended by a situation and don't need your preaching. At that moment they simply need a poor baby. What I'm talking about today is the person who has gone way beyond needing a simple "poor baby".

Now let's go back to looking at the realities for an angry person who just wants to vent the majority of the time.

1. No one, not even a good counselor can listen to you vent your anger for very long. If they care about you there will come a point when the anger and the hurtful words (even if they aren't directed toward the listener) will dig into their heart and hurt them AND will begin to destroy the relationship.

We need periods of quiet calm, stroking, laughter, kindness, peace and the logical progression toward a resolution. If you are angry more than twice a week or on average 4-6 times a month - get some help. You are spending too much time being angry and it will change your relationships with those around you.

There is a time for Anger. There is a time for negative thinking. But if it is a major part of your's hurting you as well as the people that love you. If the anger and frustration you feel IS directed toward the people that love you, it will hurt your relationships.

2. If you whine all the time about your life. Do something about it. Don't blame others. Unless you are being held hostage - your life is a reflection of your choices. If you don't like it - change it.

3. Watch people's faces. If you start whining about your life or if you begin to vent your anger and their faces glaze over or they look away - something is wrong.

4. ********BIG NEWS ******** Pay attention to who you love being around! If you have trouble with someone that is always negative and always angry - don't be too surprised when others have trouble with those same traits in you. I always giggle when the angry person is so complimentary of the calm person who knows when to share and when not to. If you like that person - why not try to be like them or at the very least, learn from them?

It boggles my mind at the times people have complained - "I can't stand being around that person, they are always complaining and angry about something." But, within two sentences, they are doing the exact same thing.....Duh!

The best advice for good relationships with others is to compare yourself to others. What you don't like in them - other people won't like in you!

5. Don't expect your family, friends and loved ones to be your over comer. Do expect them to love you and to be your sounding board.

Here's what I mean by that. Spouses, family and friends all love you. They want to be there for you and to help you. That means they want to be called when you are in trouble. They will help you clean your house, mow your yard or even help you figure out how to deal with your boss. They will give you a shoulder to cry on or maybe even join in the fuss when someone has been mean to you. But your spouses, family and friends all love you enough that they want you to get better. They want to see progress. They want to help you achieve the goal, win the prize and overcome the problem.

They can't do it for you. They can't remove the irritant. They can't stop the pain, get the job, find the girl, make everything right. They can listen and love - but their love will want to put you on the road to success.

Why wouldn't they? Have you ever heard someone say - "I love you so much I want you to continue to suffer?"

Unfortunately most people do say the following:

"I want to be totally free and that means I can say any hurtful thing I want and you have to take it, knowing that I don't mean it about you. Don't ask me to lay down my pain or change anything I'm doing. Just listen and poor baby me - even if I'm making poor choices. Oh, and if I lash out at you because I'm frustrated, you aren't allowed to take up for yourself. And don't you dare tell me I'm doing anything wrong. That's what the person I'm mad at is doing and I don't want to hear it from you. What I need is a friend I can be totally honest with and never have to deal with the consequences of hurt feelings."

Hummm........Let me see the hands of anyone that would "choose" a relationship on those terms. I thought Elvis Presley was the living end when I was a teen, but I wouldn't want a relationship with him on those terms.

The truth of the matter is that there are some ideas, problems, thoughts that I will only share with God. I have released a few others that I will only share with my husband. There's a few more that I "might" share with my children or parents. And no way would I "bare it all" with a friend.

When I do choose to share, I do it by choosing my words carefully. That's important.

Why? Relationships are ACTION - REACTION - ACTION

Whatever you say or do with someone will bear an action or reaction. You do it or say it and they will react to it. It may be with kindness, but it is placed in their memory banks and will be used to judge your future actions. That's why it's so important not to damage a relationship. Yes, we can forgive - but God is the only being that can truly forget. We may choose not to react to the thing we forgave, but we will still remember it and it will be a part of our future decision making.

And that my friend is why Love is not free.

Once you hurt someone you love, it can be forgiven - but it probably will never be forgotten. Even if they are smart enough to never mention it and have dealt with it so completely that their love for you is truly pure. Should the situation arise again guess what ugly monster will shuffle to the forefront of their brain?

When we yell at our children or hurt them in some way we can apologize. We can shower them with gifts. We can hug them for days after - but the infraction is still there.

Humans are like computers - without the delete button. That's why it is so important not to hurt feelings in the first place.

Let's say you've never done anything really bad. But you are frustrated, tired and just plain disappointed with life. Those feelings cause you to yell, fuss and get angry about the slightest infraction that comes your way.

Should those around you understand how difficult your life is? Yes

Should your family and friends be comforting and loving? Yes

Should they try to help you get out of your problems? Perhaps

Will your "freedom of expression"(depending on the intensity) change the way they see you? Definitely!

"Okay Debbie, but are we supposed to go around being dishonest? Isn't that a sick relationship too?"

Of course it is. Here's the secret. BALANCE

In all things have balance. When I talk with adults about their childhood, I've heard about some horrible situations. But in the families where good times and relationships were the normal, horrible situations were talked about with love, forgiveness and compassion.

In families where dysfunction was a daily experience and love and compassion was an occasional happening - those adults remembered the truly horrible days with pain and many times rejection of the individual.

So what is the answer?

Understand that the saying, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is brilliant! Live by it!

Work to be sure that when you need to be honest that it is done with the greatest of care for the individual that is listening. In other words don't bite the person that is there to help you.

Realize that "LOVE" wants to be there for you even during the angry times of your life. Don't shut them out. But don't let your vent of anger "hurt" the person that is trying to love you.

Be willing to change. When we are angry we usually can't see the cause of the problem. When you calm down, be willing to accept the responsibility for any part of the problem that might be your own. Share that with your sounding board so you both can rejoice in your progress.

And most important. If there is someone that is constantly your sounding board - don't forget to say thank you and give them lots of hugs. It's a hard thankless job. Make sure they know you appreciate it.

When all is said and done remember the great admiration Jesus had for those that are willing to help others.

"Withhold not good from them to who it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it."
--Prov. 3:27

"A word spoken in due season, how good it is!" -- Prov. 15:23

"Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees." ---Isa. 35:3

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." -- Matt. 25:40

"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." --Ga. 6:2

"Comfort yourselves together, and edify one another." -- 1 Thess. 5:11

The words of Jesus that we all should live by:

"As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." --Luke 6:31

In other words, we have a responsibility to our relationships. We are not free to make our needs more important than the feelings of others. As we share our lives we must also be kind and tender to those we love. Love is the best feeling in the world. But Love is not free. We must protect it and give our best as much as possible. Christ did. He expects no less from us.

God loves you,


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