Category Archives: Relationships

Looking for affirmation

Someone recently lamented to me about constantly experiencing disappointment in the light of other people’s promises.

“When people tell me they’ll do something, or say something particularly positive and appealing, I swallow it – hook, line and sinker. But nine times out of ten, I find out they never really meant it. Or they were just being polite. Either way, it leaves me feeling incredibly low.”

I know how they feel. And every time someone fails to be authentic in what they say or offer to me, it’s another blow to my courage in remaining vulnerable and authentic in myself.

My friend was conflicted, searching for reasons: “Does believing what they say make me optimistic or just plain gullible? Am I being naïve? I feel I’m in danger of becoming cynical about these things.”

It’s a tricky one. Many of us love the refreshing optimism and idealistic outlook that children display, an attitude they hold until the hard realities of life teach them otherwise. Yet it’s all too easy to fall into cold hard cynicism, expecting nothing more than disappointment and pain from people because experience has taught us that this is what invariably happens.

My friend has decided to begin the long, difficult process of adjusting her expectations of other people.

“I want to trust people and believe the best of them,” she said sadly, “but maybe I’m looking for affirmation in all the wrong places.”

Gives me food for thought. How about you?

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Can I listen?

A friend of mine is going through a break-up and she’s struggling to get the emotional support she needs. Hearing her talk about the difficulties of being listened to raised the following questions in my mind:

  • Can I listen without thinking ahead to what I’m going to say next?
  • Can I listen without jumping in with well-meaning advice?
  • Can I listen without getting distracted by my own thoughts and concerns?
  • Can I listen without changing the subject to something more ‘interesting’?
  • Can I listen with my heart as well as my head?

How good are you at listening?

 

Why I struggle with my church

by Rod Anderson, The Christian Post

I have a confession to make – I really struggle with my church.

I know we’re all broken people, I know we’re all trying to follow Christ and love each other and we’re going to make mistakes. Yes, I do know this.

But there are times when I get so tired of seeing the old patterns emerge again and again, and this is one of those times. It’s as if we’re stubbornly and pridefully refusing to learn from our mistakes.

(Click to tweet this verse)

I hear the same complaints over and over from one church member to another – hypocrisy, gossip, lack of communication, too quick to condemn, too slow to forgive or too self-important to listen.

Yes, I am part of this messy, flawed and vulnerable body. But while I’d love to talk about how we can move forward, there are many who would rather complain and do nothing, or stick their head in the sand and pretend we’re all right. There are those who prefer to skate precariously on the surface and hope that a smile and a Biblical verse will smooth everything over. And all the while, we continue to repeat the same old mistakes together.

I’m tired of hearing empty words about the things we should do as Christians. I’m tired of making the effort to listen and to apologise for my mistakes, of trying to get along peaceably with others, while others express little desire to offer grace to their brothers and sisters, or refuse to examine their own actions from time to time. I accept we all make mistakes, but what I can’t swallow is our reluctance to admit them and learn from them together.

And of course, in saying all this, I feel guilty. I feel as though I’m a traitor. But if we cannot openly share our need as a family for growth and self-reflection and affirmation and authenticity to one other with the humblest of servant-hearts, then what hope is there for us to thrive as a church and as a community in Christ?

The Barna Group polled a group of American people and asked them ‘what helps you grow in your faith’? Answers included prayer, reading the Bible, family and friends… but none of the top 10 answers featured the word ‘church’. How sad that Christians, myself included, may not feel that our church is a safe or key environment in which to be firmly rooted and growing in faith.

I’m sure this is a subject I’ll come back to time and again, but for now I choose to press on and remind myself that whatever discouragement I might feel at times, that God is bigger than me and bigger than the church.

Yes, my hope should never rest on others but always on the Lord Himself. (Click to tweet)

And how about you? How do you feel about your church?

 

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