The Hope Enjoyed in Simply Being Honest With One Another

THERE seems to be two realities at play in life; experience oblivious to suffering, and its opposite – where we’re put in touch with suffering.

What can we do when life seems such an irretrievable struggle?

There are many answers to God questions we would like to give. But many just don’t hold up to truth one hundred percent of the time. How God works with genuine consistency, however, is through the Body ministry – through our willingness to spend time with one another being honest.

“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

– Hebrews 10:24-25 (NRSV)

As we meet together, being real in our experience of suffering, hearing the other person out in theirs, allowing one other to share, free of judgment or advice, we encourage each other. We talk about what worked for us if we think it might help. Not what the other should do. We avoid contradictions of cliché. And we listen into the Voice of the Holy Spirit’s leading, being careful and diligent to surrender to the air many things we could say.

Meeting together has no benefit if we can’t be honest. And no truth that is experienced is wrong. Every perception of reality belongs. There is only encouragement when we can share our intimate and real experience.

We may be new creations in Christ, but we’re also still sinners living in a broken world. Christ gives us brothers and sisters in the faith for mutual encouragement.

When we can be honest in speaking of our struggles, within a listening environment free of judgment, encouragement and hope are ours.

Intimacy: Does Someone Need To Feel Safe In Order To Experience Intimacy?

There are a number of things that human beings need in order to survive, and the same could be said when it comes to their ability to thrive. For example, food is something that everyone on this planet needs.

If someone doesn’t receive the food that they need, their time on this earth will soon come to an end. However, while intimacy is something that can allow one to thrive, they can still live without it.

It Is Not the Same

They will still be able to function; it won’t be as if their life will suddenly come to an end. But even though they will still be able to live, their life is not going to be as fulfilling as it would be if they experienced intimacy.

On the outside, it might seem as though they are just like anyone else, yet that will be as far as it goes. When it comes to what their inner world is like, it could be as if they are no longer alive.

A Deep Yearning

One could spend a lot of time thinking about what it would be like to be able to connect to their fellow human beings. Their heart is going to have the desire to express itself, and to be around others who are the same.

That will be as far as it will go, though, and this could mean that they will feel as though their life is empty. As a result of this, it won’t matter what they have achieved or what they have attained.

Out of Touch

Alternatively, they might not even be aware of this need, and this could be because they do everything they can to avoid how they feel. So, even if they do become aware of their need to open up to others and to experience deeper connections with their fellow human beings, it won’t matter.

The pain that they experience through ignoring this need could be channelled into another area of their life. This may have allowed them to become highly successful, at least in their career.

The Priority

And as this is often seen as the only thing that matters in today’s world, it can allow them to receive a lot of positive feedback from others. One can then be running away from themselves but these people are not going to realise it.

This is not to say that they won’t share their body with others, as this could be what generally happens. Physically, they will connect to another human being, but that will be as far as it will go.

It’s Easier

While this means that they will be getting naked, it is going to be more comfortable than it would be if they were to open their heart. When it comes to the people in their life, they might just share their views and what they have been up to.

Now, if one is able to experience intimacy, they might find it hard to understand why someone would be this way. They could start to think about how lonely their life would be if they only shared their mind and body.

On the Elusiveness of Forgiveness

THIS is not about saying forgiveness is impossible, but it is a concession that forgiveness depends on many factors.

Times of the year, seasons in all our lives, situations of fortune and misfortune, all provide either impetus or constraints on forgiveness.

Some situations a miraculous level of grace is gifted to us, and we forgive reminiscent of God’s forgiving us in Christ. The world simply cannot understand what only God could achieve through us.

Other situations, even what seems petty is difficult to forgive. Such a confounding of an otherwise merciful heart is designed to humble us. The Lord invites us to be curious in discovering why. He helps us understand that forgiveness is always a miracle of grace so that nobody can boast.

Forgiveness is at essence about acceptance. Only the heart can truly accept, for what the mind thinks, and the body does, in sustained ways, is always generated from the heart. Forgiveness comes from the heart of acceptance.

But this article is not centrally about how elusive forgiveness is for us to do. It is more about the elusiveness of others’ forgiving us.

People don’t forgive us because they think they must let us off the hook. In other words, the issue is trust. Their views of us have become fixed in what we did wrong. All associations they have of us tend to be framed by this newer negative view, which eclipses what could otherwise be an unblemished record.

However unfortunate this is, we must accept it as it is. It does us no good to continue to regret what we did and/or how they saw how we performed. Perhaps we have burned our bridges. Maybe there is no turning back. What they are giving us, however, are fresh opportunities to nurture relationships with others.

Many times, God has not yet gifted the party who cannot forgive us with the grace to do so. It’s between them and God. That’s where we leave it, always as we hold them aloft before God, in our kindness. We only complicate matters when we’re anxious to be forgiven.

Don’t doubt that if they could see why we should be forgiven they would forgive us.

Sometimes (i.e. not always or even most of the time) people’s circumstances change in such a way as new opportunities at reconciliation become possible.

Humanology for Couples – Personal Beliefs

This is the second post on my HUMANOLOGY FOR COUPLES series. Many people ask me how relationships should be handled so they can remain solid and stable. These posts offer you some ideas and tips that I hope will help you understand some of the important aspects involved in relationships.

When human beings are born, they are born without beliefs. Beliefs are deduced from the experiences they then start having: from what they see, hear or live. Thus, many of the beliefs that a human being has stem from childhood, from the person’s environment and from their families. For example, having grown up in Spain, loud voices were the common thing and quite accepted; but when I lived in Russia, loud voices were considered very rude.

All human beings need beliefs. They constitute our foundations and lead each of us into seeing the world the way we see it. Strong beliefs represent solid foundations. Questioning beliefs results in uncertainty, insecurity and doubt. Beliefs exist in every field of life and can be grouped into different basic topics: The beliefs a human being has lead him or her to see the world a certain way. Some of those beliefs, we’re not even aware of; in time, they become subconscious and we just assume that the world is the way we happen to see it. We internalize them so much that they become the normal thing. Then, when relationships are established, the set of personal, religious, social, cultural and other beliefs that each partner has will affect the way in which the relationship is approached and maintained. So, if one of the partners believes that free, open relationships are the only way to go and the other partner’s beliefs are that only complete devotion to the other is the right approach, they will sooner or later encounter difficulties.

  • Family beliefs: the ones shared by the family members
  • Social beliefs: the ones shared by the social class and social group that we grow up in or live in
  • Religious beliefs: the ones derived from the religion we are taught at home or at school
  • Cultural beliefs: the ones derived from our national or ethnic environment
  • and many others

When beliefs are not obvious, some people just neglect them and move on. This results in unsolved issues within couples.

For a couple to be strong and balanced, each partner should know his or her beliefs and share them with the other, in an attempt to make understanding easier. Knowing what your partner believes, even if different from your own beliefs, will help you understand their position and opinions. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your partner will be convinced by your beliefs or by what you’re sharing. But understanding where you’re coming from is a first step in the direction of shared growth.

How can you know what beliefs you have, if some of them are subconscious? I recommend the following, very simple exercise, that can be done individually and its results, or some of them, then shared with others.

For a couple of weeks, carry a small notebook and pen with you wherever you go. You can also use your recording system on your phone. Every time you hear yourself say anything that begins with any of the following phrases: write whatever it is that you said on your notebook. You can also note down all your thoughts beginning with those phrases. After two weeks, go over your notes. They will represent many, if not most, of your beliefs.

Support Is Not a Rescue Operation

Supporting someone and rescuing another are two totally different ways of being. One is based upon the belief that the other person involved is capable, able, and whole. The other is based upon the belief that the other person involved is broken, in need of repair, and incapable. The outcome of holding someone in each of these views results in very different endings.

I often hear from parents that it is important to support our children. Check. I couldn’t agree more. Then I dig. I ask what support looks like, and here is where trouble can start. I hear all sorts of explanations of ‘support’, and many are actually rescuing.

Do any of the following sound familiar?

Calling another parent when your child gets into a disagreement
Saying that your child needs you to be there to help sort out an issue at school
Speaking for your child, rather than asking their opinion or desires
Not letting your child work to solve their own issues before getting involved

The list can go on. These are rescues, which are very different from support. Rescuing is subversive. It slowly and consistently tells another that they are not capable, that you are needed to come in and fix their situation. It kills self-confidence, and why wouldn’t it? When we rescue (I do it, too) we say over and over that another couldn’t possibly handle this on their own. It creates a very dis-empowered view of the world for the other person.

Support has a very different feel. Support is being with, not solving. It often involves questions concerning the other such as, “How did that make you feel?”, “What could you do about the situation?”, “What did you learn?”, and “What else?” It could involve you sharing a tough story of your own when you felt the same way. One thing that is imperative and far different from rescuing is your point of view. It is holding the view that the other is capable and able to solve their own struggles. The situation is not about you, it is about the other. There is no call to action for you to solve or fix.

Now, it is important to note, there are absolutely times that someone is in danger or in a situation that truly requires assistance. I’m not talking about those situations. I’m talking about the day to day situations that come up in our relationships. Those times when we rush in to rescue rather than feel into the vulnerability of another’s struggle. It is far easier for many of us to solve the issue and move on than it is to sit with them in their discomfort. After all, sitting with discomfort requires us to tap into our own personal history of struggle. But, the long term impact of rescuing is detrimental. It erodes self confidence, worthiness, and one’s agency.