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Tag Archives: relationships

Texting God Isn’t Loving Him

 

Recently I took The 5 Love Languages assessment, which tells whether you give and receive love most through: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, physical touch, or acts of service. It turns out my strongest love language is quality time. I love long, face-to-face conversations with people. Visits over coffee. Walks through nature. Meals at home. It doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing as long as we connect in a meaningful way. Even a decent phone call can communicate love.

But in the past months, I haven’t given God even that. Instead I settled for texting God. Life got busy, and I made excuses. I was doing lots of great stuff, all for him (that’s what I said). Meanwhile, we stopped talking like we used to.

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Credit: Lord Jim (https://flic.kr/p/8iH4En)

Many things can make fulfilling quality time. Texting is not one of them. Texting is useful for simple questions or quick information.

“I’m at store. Do we need milk?”

“Yes”

“K. Got it.”

“Thx :)”

Texting is a great tool. And a poor way to love someone.

We used to meet every morning. I’d settle in a chair with my breakfast, coffee, and Bible. Sometimes writing in a journal; other times meditating on what I read. I would tell him about the day I had planned. Sometimes he’d tell me what he had planned too. I liked to listen for a while and wait on him to interrupt the stillness. The front porch was a good place to sit on warm spring mornings, watching the tree limbs swaying and birds taking flight.

Now my prayers are short, direct, to the point. A few seconds sent heavenward. Texted prayers.

“Get milk.”

Usually I think of them in the car. “Thanks for the sunshine today, God.” Or, “This day is tough. Please give me strength to get through it.” Maybe it’s because driving gives me time to think or because the Christian radio station is playing. Maybe I’m lonely driving by myself. But texting while driving is a dangerous habit. Another driver or a light or the GPS soon distracts me. I press send and move on.

That kind of relationship never grows deep. How could it? There’s no time for intimacy in 140 characters.

In the book Too Busy Not to Pray, Pastor Bill Hybels writes:

“Some people tell me they don’t need to schedule regular time for prayer; they pray on the run. These people are kidding themselves. Just try building a marriage on the run. You can’t build a relationship that way, with God or with another person. To get to know someone, you have to slow down and spend time together.”

Some friendships can survive months or years without contact and yet the friendship won’t suffer for it. The friends say they “pick up where we left off.” But could you imagine treating someone you’re dating or married to that way? Your relationship will die. There may be nothing left to pick up when you get back to it. I’d guess most committed couples expect to hear from their partners daily. Months or years are out of the question.

If that’s the case, and there’s a God of the universe who cares for us, then how much more should we communicate with our Creator, Father, and Savior? No wonder Paul wrote to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17).

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Posted by on February 17, 2016 in Other thoughts

 

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“Boundaries”: How I Learned to Hear No

1f0be051b9b8121dc0f39c0218acb63dSome people can’t say no. Personally, I do not understand these people. I have the opposite problem. “No” is easy for me to say and yet hard to hear.

For a long while, I was in denial. I only recently admitted this to myself after reading Boundaries by Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend. The book came highly recommended by several friends, which made me curious how good it could possibly be. After reading it myself, I have this to say about it: Eye. Opener.

My last post emphasized the importance of vulnerability in relationships, but too much openness can be as harmful as none at all. Vulnerability needs to be balanced with healthy boundaries. According to Cloud and Townsend, boundaries separate what we are and are not responsible for. Think of a fence surrounding someone’s property. The fence defines what belongs to the property owner as well as what does not.

“In short, boundaries help us keep the good in and the bad out,” Cloud and Townsend write. Boundaries should allow good to come inside while being solid enough to protect from danger.

The book is rich with case studies, practical applications, and biblical wisdom about the use and abuse of boundaries. Every page has some valuable lesson to draw on. Reading this book led me to reevaluate every relationship in my life. I feel equipped with new filters to judge what is healthy and working well in addition to what areas need adjustment.

For instance, I’m even more grateful to how my parents raised me (see Chapter 4: How Boundaries Are Developed). I know my firm sense of personal boundaries, like the power to say no, comes from lessons in early childhood. (I remember many talks about what to do if a stranger tried to lure me into a car. Hint: Don’t get in the car.)

Yet at the same time, I do have a problem with hearing no. I need to practice being aware and respectful of other people’s boundaries. If someone tells me no, I have to let go responsibility of their feelings, choices, and actions–everything I have no right to control.

The truth is: I’m a manipulative controller.

Credit: printmeister(https://flic.kr/p/6S3Z8r)

Credit: printmeister(https://flic.kr/p/6S3Z8r)

At least that’s my self-diagnosis after reading Boundaries. One of the early chapters describes the main personality types of people with boundary issues. Surprisingly, the types include both people whose boundaries are violated by others and the people who commit the violations. Manipulators are a violating type. They don’t have so much issue with their own boundaries as they do with the boundaries of others. They use deception and trickery to get around other people’s boundaries. Jacob is a biblical example of a manipulator. Twice, he tricked his brother out of his rights as the firstborn son. His name actually meant “deceiver”.

While aggressive controllers are more direct and demanding to get what they want, the manipulator is a sneaky little fox who may sometimes play the victim or fake virtue and goodness. Personally, I use the “good intentions” excuse. Or my hurt feelings. Whatever act they scheme, manipulators are ultimately crossing the boundaries of others to control them.

Boundaries confronted me with a mirror. It wasn’t too long before I tried manipulating one of my friends again. She didn’t give in to my tricks. I got angry and finally had to admit my problem. The next day I called her to apologize. Thankfully, she forgave me, and I hope our friendship won’t suffer for my temptation to trample boundaries. Repentance isn’t an overnight change. It’s something I expect to work on the rest of my life, one relationship at a time.

Do you struggle more with protecting your own boundaries or respecting others’? What do you find most difficult about relational boundaries?

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2015 in Books

 

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