You’re So Annoying

“You’re so annoying!”

That’s exactly what my wife said to me recently after a friendly discussion about the garbage disposal. I don’t know why she said it. I wasn’t trying to be cute or snide or sarcastic. I thought the disposal was just fine. It works. Sure, it’s old and smells bad. But it works.

Another reminder to us men that women truly are from VENUS!

Seriously, I think all of us, married or single, would admit that we annoy one another at times. And if no one has ever annoyed you before, you are either a true saint in whom there is no blemish, or you have always lived alone in a cave!

Sure, we conflict with those we love the most at times. That’s part of the relationship process – known as “iron sharpening iron”. Only problem is, this reality is often a grating and conflicting experience, resulting in frustration and sometimes, exasperation.

“Does this mean that relationship is bad for me and I need to get out of it?”

No. Relax. You’re relationship is just fine.

Now if there is abuse of any kind occurring then read no further because what I have to share today is for those healthy relationships in our lives that sometimes include conflict.

If you grew up in a large household with many siblings, at least more than yourself, you already know conflict just happens automatically when you include any other human being into the equation.

But guess what? This is a great opportunity for The Life to have a new growth spurt in your spiritual life. Those little pet peeves and creature comforts that we secretly cultivate and make room for suddenly get jostled and jilted when you live with others.

Eventually you have to let those go to an extent, or find ways to compromise so that all parties involved can each benefit. And when we are the ones being affected in some way by someone else, it requires management of our emotions, irritations and even anger.

If I can look to The Life inside me, I find there is grace and patience that I personally do not possess, and I find myself having the power to deal. And sometimes, accept, and occasionally, enjoy.

You know what? That person may be “so annoying”, but then again, without them, The Life will never get chances to grow and stretch and develop inside you.

And that may be annoying in an eternal sort of way.

Until next time!

Jeff

Advertisements

Don’t get offended.

“I mean this in love and in no way intend this to come across as negative or critical, but…”

Ever have someone start out a conversation this way? Not the easiest statement to hear someone else say to us. Well, don’t feel too bad, it’s only natural to put up an emotional wall, or get verbally defensive when someone we know well confronts us with an issue.

Whether they say it in love or not, or whether it is even well-intended or meant to hurt us, I think we can learn to glean value from any kind of confrontation, rebuke, even attack.

Granted, some verbal attacks are purely worthless and should be discarded immediately. In fact, I sometimes think the reason many of us get defensive when spoken to this way is actually because of a lack of GOOD DEFENSE.

Now hear me, I am not saying that it is good to “get defensive”… not at all. What I propose to you is this: If we have built healthy boundaries (read any book from the amazing series BOUNDARIES by Henry Cloud and John Townsend) in our Circle of Relationships (ask ME for a copy of this helpful tool ), we won’t have to “get defensive” when bombarded, attacked, or lovingly addressed in a proper way.

You see, if you have built healthy DEFENSES ahead of time, you don’t need to GET DEFENSIVE at the spur of the moment!

You can listen to that person, chew any meat they may have given, and spit out the bones. And if someone gives you ALL BONES, well then you can spit the entire mess out and get a good breath mint later!

Jesus didn’t need to get defensive when verbally attacked by his critics, because he already had healthy defenses built before hand.

Some of these defenses relate more to a healthy view of ourselves and a confidence of who God is in us and the fact that if He is for us, we have nothing to fear.

In fact, if you find yourself getting defensive often, that indicates you probably have not built good DEFENSES up in your inner man. And in fact, you may find inside your soul many conflicting sources pulling and pushing you to really fly off the handle emotionally, psychologically, physically.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Now I would be a hypocrite to make it sound like I am such a well-adjusted human being that I have never, ever become defensive. The exact opposite scenario is closer to the truth. You see, I found so many unhealthy emotional triggers inside of me when I first started my spiritual journey – I was one of the most defensive people on the planet. I discovered part of the reason had to do with being a very caring person – I was sensitive. But sensitivity without a healthy defense system on the inside will produce a lot of pain. I had to “toughen up” as others say.

But truthfully, it had nothing to do with getting tougher, but with getting fortified with a good set of boundaries and inner foundational truths. It took years and still I am growing in that area even to this day.

I wish I could go into greater detail with this, but if I did, this would not be a blog entry, but a book. And for more detail, you are going to have to wait for THE BOOK – “The Life” ha ha.

So all I can tell you is this – you and I need our source to be God inside of us in order to build healthy defenses on the outside. Then and only then, when the time comes for someone to “share a personal word” with us, we won’t get defensive anymore, but instead, with peace and calmness we can gently listen to the person(s) and filter the information properly with a smile, and even say, “Thank you so much for sharing that with me. I will take it into consideration. Have a great day!”

Sounds easy, of course it is not. But with His Life inside of us, it is more than POSSIBLE!

Until next time,

Jeff Saxton

Now & Later – Part 3 of 4

So where was I?

Oh yes! Now and Later candy. Yummy. Can use, re-use… even re-re-use.

Only thing is – it will screw up your dental work! Man I could tell you stories of when our mouths would lock up during a Now & Later chewing episode. I remember I used to get scared as I would be chewing away and then after stopping for a rest, my teeth would suddenly bond! I tried and tried to re-open my mouth. But to no avail! The Now & Later candy had fused my teeth together! Lowers stuck to uppers forever and ever AMEN!

I remember in my wonder years that this would almost send me into panic attack – wondering would I ever be able to eat again. Or would I have to get a pry bar and rip it all apart and sort my extracted teeth out later!

I think they could use Now & Later candy as a NASA commercial-grade glue on the space shuttle. Or maybe as a fastener for high speed engines in NASCAR. The stuff is beyond sticky. I could take you to my parents home where we grow up and show you the Now & Later spots in their carpet where that stuff fell, never to be retrieved again. Once it sticks, that’s it until Jesus comes back!

So likewise should great friends stick together.

Friends are to be friends forever (as the Michael W. Smith song says), but many times we just move on to the new friends. Right? “Old friends, meh… what do we need them for? Their OLD!” We want NEW everything in America.

The value of old friends however, goes far beyond the “honeymoon phase”…

Proverbs 17:9 says “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” (New NIV)

I recall a time I was struggling with an offense that a very dear friend had done to me. It was quite severe, at least to me and how I experienced it on the receiving end. But at the same time, the close friend that committed this act against me very likely didn’t realize it, and possibly was going through enormous pressure with other things that were tearing their personal life apart at that time. Even though I knew this, the offense still was very real and raw and I pulled away from this friend for a couple years. We didn’t even speak; which was mostly on my end, since the friend would sometimes try to reach out in small ways.

But I wanted them to apologize.

Then I read this verse in Proverbs 17:9 (CAUTION: Beware of just randomly reading your Bible on a given day! You will get hit with a truth bomb like a submarine running into an enemy depth charge! Ha ha. Just kidding. That’s the goal, right?).

I thought about my friend immediately as the Holy Spirit brought… not really conviction, but just a very sweet reasoning. “So Jeff, you and this person were amazing friends for a long time, right?” I had to admit we were. “This person has done more for you than almost anyone has in your entire life.” I thought, yes that is true. Then this douzy hit me – “Jeff, this friend will never ask for forgiveness for this sin. It was way off their radar screen at the time. You do need to forgive them. They did sin against you. But it was more of an unconscious act on their part. They won’t ever understand your side. And it happened several years ago. They wont remember the details of it. Is it worth it to let this sin separate you two forever?”

I had to admit that I valued the friendship much more than holding on to the offense. So I contacted my friend.

To this day we are good friends and our relationship is back on track. I think I would have lost that friendship forever. And NO – I did not bring up that offense!

Maybe you are not like me, maybe you cannot forgive sins that are committed against you by someone close to you. Some sins are obviously much more severe in consequence. But also it is true that EVERY GREAT RELATIONSHIP will be tested by potential offenses on both parties. No one is perfect.

The skill of friendship lies in being able to forgive, as well as communicate offenses in a loving way when its appropriate. This verse suggests as well that their are some offenses that should not even be communicated, just forgiven and forgotten.

We can talk about boundaries and earning the right to be brought into a closer circle of depth in regards to friendships. But for certain kinds of issues, we sometimes need to just move on, and love, and forgive and just – DROP IT ALREADY!

Tune in next time as I address NOW & LATER – PART 4 of 4!

Jeff

Earning Not to be Heard

Someone mentioned this common Christian cliche’ the other day to a friend as I overheard them discuss how to talk to people who have chosen to live a sinful lifestyle – “Well you know, we got to earn the right to be heard. We can’t just go up to people and bombard them with our opinions about the sins of other people.”

It may be a cliche’ but I like it nonetheless.

I’m not going to waste your time or mine to get into details of what was meant by the comment “sinful lifestyle” because that could include the pastor down the street that lives an honest life in certain areas of his personal life yet extorts money from his flock.

A person struggling with sin in any area is technically living a “sinful lifestyle”. I’m so glad no one from church came up to me in high school and confronted me in a judgmental manner about my sinful lifestyle.

The thing is, I certainly was living a sinful lifestyle. I was convicted every Sunday about my alcoholic partying and wild adventures that involved trouble with the law. But in order to tell me about my sinful lifestyle, you need to earn that access. That’s a social rule – people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Another cliche’ that I like.

So next time you see that sinner on the street or in the office or on the bus, take those stones you hold in your hand and drop them on the ground. When you have that sinner’s attention, ask them how their day is going, and really listen to their answer. then, if you must speak about sin, tell them about the worst sinner you ever met – you!

I’m joking – a little bit. Sort of.

When people see we have let go of the angry stones and picked up a wooden cross, they will be drawn to the love of Jesus and finally, want to hear what we have to say- which should mostly be about God’s amazing love and grace who saved a wretch like you and me!

Until next time!

Jeff

Forgive and Forget?

You grow up hearing this in elementary school, right?

“Oh, just forgive and forget.” Okay, I’ll get right on that. My problem is, I have a fairly detailed memory and very good recall and retention level. And my mother and my wife have an even greater memory than I do!

Maybe you are like me – you forgive and then remember forever.

One could say that if we have vivid memory of past offenses, it means we really haven’t truly forgiven. I think that is the case with many people today – they kind of “forget” the offense for the time being, but have not truly forgiven the trespasser from the heart. And when the occasion suits itself to think about that offense, we relive it and pick the offense back up, perhaps with more bitterness and anger than ever before.

So we first need to really GET THERE in terms of forgiving others from the heart. We literally let go of the offense, and choose to let God deal with the heavenly justice of the issue.

There are actually many people who are so afraid to be offended that they convince themselves that the offense never happened; yep – a little defense mechanism called DENIAL.

You need to admit the truth of the situation and accept the reality of it no matter how painful. Once you get there emotionally, you should struggle with some initial feelings of bitterness or anger. Immediately following this, you are ready to begin forgiving.

And when you forgive, of course the truth is you need to let the offender OFF THE HOOK. You need to release the offender. You need to give it to the Lord and let go of it. Just let go. That’s hard for us sometimes, right?

But will this mean we actually forget the offense ever happened? Don’t count on it.

Jesus said to forgive 70 times 7. That’s a lot of forgiving the same person for the same offense. But it makes sense with those of us who have vivid memories. Whenever you remember the offense, forgive. If it means forgiving every day, or every week, or every month the same person of the same issue, so be it.

That’s hard. It would be much easier if we could actually forget painful memories altogether.

Next time you think you have forgiven your neighbor and you recall their offense, forgive them again from your heart.

Who knows, you may eventually forget it ever happened.

Until next time,

Jeff

Getting Personal

Getting personal…

Yeah, that’s hard for me. After all, we live in a cynical world.

We judge, we form opinions, we allow our ugly side to get the best of us. And we are well aware that we must put our best foot forward at all times. If you are a celebrity this is of course magnified even more.

In today’s world, we need to earn the right to be heard. We need to show we are trustworthy and safe rather than two-faced and shallow. The question for you and I is this: are we a safe human being running around on planet earth, or are we one of the ugly ones?

I don’t mean ugly on the outside. True ugliness is displayed on the inside. And true beauty is shown by the pure hearted who give and serve and think of others before themselves on a consistent basis.

Man, this is beginning to sound like impossible fantasies. I don’t mean it to at all.

You know what I mean. Think about your mother. Why do you consider her a safe person and a beautiful person? Exactly – because you know that your mother is always thinking the best of you, always speaking the best of you in your absence, and always thinking about your needs over her own.

If ever the Lord above yearned for some safe people to help Him meets the needs of a hurting world, it is now. Without safe people, we can not get personal; we cannot get real. Without safe people, we must have guards up, protecting ourselves from each other; playing the game where we think we are better than others and act out those ugly passions.

Truth is – you are not better than anyone else, we are all weak imperfect human beings, and God sees this is so 24 / 7, so stop with the games and start becoming safe.

Don’t get me wrong, we must put up with the ugly people, smile when they hurt us, forgive them when they wrong us, speak well of them when they speak poorly of us behind our backs.

We must do this because it will heap hot coals on their heads – hot coals of conviction in their consciences. And they will realize the stupidity of their ugliness, and start getting pretty.