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

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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 4 of 4

Yes!

If you have been following my “Now & Later” Series you have made it to the final post…

Congrats are in order!

Basically the notion that we can have good friends both for now and later is not that incredibly deep. Many people have best friends for a lifetime. I wish my life worked that way. I think a person could have a best friend for life if both parties live in the same area their entire lives.

For me, it hasn’t really been possible to stay in the same place. I’ve tried. Believe me, I’ve tried. Somehow I got the reputation of being a bit on the ancy side when it comes to longevity vocationally and locationally. But you know, God’s will is the result of what happens while we are making other plans.

I tend to make a deep friendships – more than many acquaintances. Not that I am shy or socially awkward. I can flutter and flit with the best of them. But I get bored with being merely a social butterfly, barely landing on an individual’s shoulder long enough to get beyond the surface. I like to get deep. Yeah, I like deep. I like to really get real, honest, vulnerable.

“How you doin?” “No… really. Come on man… talk to me.”

Good or bad that’s what I like about human interaction. I hate it when someone is listening to you but their mind couldn’t be further away from you. I remember one time, I was sharing with a prof in college about my classes and some frustrations I was having with another teacher, and my prof fell asleep at his desk while I was in mid-sentence!

He fell asleep!

So I stopped talking and just stared at him.

Okay. So what does one do in moments like that? Should I start yelling? Should I, slip out of my chair and twinkle-toe-it outta there before he wakes up? Should I pour water over his head? Maybe I should have called “911”. But instead, I just stared at him. I was miffed. Finally he awoke and saw me staring at him. He shot right up and said almost on cue, “Well it sounds like your on the right track, brother.” I wished I had been telling him I was a horrible addict with a huge record of felonies. That would have made for an amusing reply from him, assuring me that I must be on the right track.

In his defense, I found out later that he had severe sleep-apnea. Ya think?

You see I’m not out to take from others. I do believe that when it comes to relationships, people are either givers or takers – they are either looking to get, or looking to give.

Ladies, try to stay away from the guys that are looking to get from you. Instead, look for the guys that are givers. I know, I know… easier said than done. Well I have had so many life-changing experiences that have deepened me, stretched me, and really made me more of a giver than a getter.

Have you noticed that those who are ‘getters” tend to keep all of their relationships at the surface level? They are too self-centered to think about giving to others. It would be way too inconvenient for them to give without getting back. I think Now & Later friendships have to be built on an equal exchange of giving and getting. Kinda like withdrawing money from your checking account – you cannot make withdrawals if you never make deposits.

Think about your friendships today. Have you been frustrated with very small withdrawals lately in those relationships? Maybe it’s time to make a big deposit in someone’s life today. Take a moment and write down someone who really could use a deposit from a friend. We all have those special people in our lives that have blessed us in the past.

I think it is time to make a deposit. It’s time to be a giver to that special person

I really hope that once you make that deposit, you will see that friendship grow in fresh new ways! I believe you will!

And when that happens, you will be the NOW & LATER friend that everybody wants!

That’s the real secret of friendships – give to others, even if they don’t always give back. If you ARE a good friend, you will HAVE more friends that you can handle!

Until next Series,

Jeff

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

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