Conversations That Will Lead to Deeper Relationships

A Way to Have Conversations That Will Lead to Deeper Relationships

Glennon Doyle Melton

When I was a mama of three very tiny, very messy, very beautiful rug rats, we had DAYS THAT WENT ON FOR LIFETIMES.

Craig left at 6:00 am every morning and as I watched his showered, ironed self leave the house I felt incredibly blessed and thrilled to have so much time alone with my babies and incredibly terrified and bitter to have so much time alone with my babies.

If you don’t believe that all of those feelings can exist at once—well, you’ve never been a parent to many tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats.

When Craig returned each day at 6:00 pm (he actually returned at 5:50 but took a STUNNINGLY LONG TIME TO GET THE MAIL) he’d walk through the door, smile, and say—

“So! How was your day?”

This question was like a spotlight pointed directly at the chasm between his experience of a “DAY” and my experience of a “DAY.” How was my day?

The question would linger in the air for a moment while I stared at Craig and the baby shoved her hand in my mouth like they do—while the oldest screamed MOMMY I NEED HELP POOING from the bathroom and the middle one cried in the corner because I NEVER EVER EVER let her drink the dishwasher detergent. NOT EVER EVEN ONCE, MOMMY!!!

And I’d look down at my spaghetti stained pajama top, unwashed hair, and gorgeous baby on my hip—and my eyes would wander around the room, pausing to notice the toys peppering the floor and the kids’ stunning new art on the fridge . . .

And I’d want to say: How was my day?

Today has been a lifetime.

It was the best of times and the worst of times. There were moments when my heart was so full I thought I might explode, and there were other moments when my senses were under such intense assault that I was CERTAIN I’d explode.

I was both lonely and absolutely desperate to be alone.

Photo Credit: Marina Aguiar, Creative Commons

I was saturated—just BOMBARDED with touch and then the second I put down this baby I yearned to smell her sweet skin again.

I was simultaneously bored out of my skull and completely overwhelmed with so much to do.

Today was too much and not enough. It was loud and silent. It was brutal and beautiful. I was at my very best today and then, just a moment later, at my very worst.

At 3:30 today I decided that we should adopt four more children, and then at 3:35 I decided that we should give up the kids we already have for adoption.

Husband—when your day is completely and totally dependent upon the moods and needs and schedules of tiny, messy, beautiful rug rats your day is ALL OF THE THINGS and NONE OF THE THINGS, sometimes within the same three minute period.

But I’m not complaining.

This is not a complaint, so don’t try to FIX IT.

I wouldn’t have my day Any.Other.Way. I’m just saying—it’s a hell of a hard thing to explain—an entire day with lots of babies.

But I’d be too tired to say all of that. So I’d just cry, or yell, or smile and say “fine,” and then hand the baby over and run to Target to wander aisles aimlessly, because that’s all I ever really wanted.

But I’d be a little sad because love is about really being seen and known and I wasn’t being seen or known then. Everything was really hard to explain. It made me lonely.

So we went to therapy, like we do.

Through therapy, we learned to ask each other better questions. We learned that if we really want to know our people, if we really care to know them—we need to ask them better questions and then really listen to their answers.

We need to ask questions that carry along with them this message: “I’m not just checking the box here. I really care what you have to say and how you feel. I really want to know you.”

If we don’t want throw away answers, we can’t ask throw away questions. A caring question is a key that will unlock a room inside the person you love.

So Craig and I don’t ask “how was your day?” anymore.

After a few years of practicing increasingly intimate question asking, now we find ourselves asking each other questions like these:

  • When did you feel loved today?
  • When did you feel lonely?
  • What did I do today that made you feel appreciated?
  • What did I say that made you feel unnoticed?
  • What can I do to help you right now?

I know. WEEEEEIRRD at first. But not after a while. Not any weirder than asking the same damn empty questions you’ve always asked that elicit the same damn empty answers you’ve always gotten.

And so now when our kids get home from school, we don’t  say: “How was your day?” Because they don’t know. Their day was lots of things.

Instead we ask our kids:

  • How did you feel during your spelling test?
  • What did you say to the new girl when you all went out to recess?
  • Did you feel lonely at all today?
  • Were there any times you felt proud of yourself today?

And I never ask my friends: How are you?

Because they don’t know either.

Instead I ask:

  • How is your mom’s chemo going?
  • How’d that conference with Ben’s teacher turn out?
  • What’s going really well with work right now?

Questions are like gifts.

It’s the thought behind them that the receiver really FEELS. We have to know the receiver to give the right gift and to ask the right question.

Generic gifts and questions are all right, but personal gifts and questions feel better. Love is specific, I think. It’s an art. The more attention and time you give to your questions, the more beautiful the answers become.

Life is a conversation. Make it a good one.

What Single Parents Want You to Know………………(from findingjoy.net)

1. Please don’t tell them that your husband traveling is the same as being a single mom and therefore you understand.  I know I probably did this and said this before I understood. In fact, I’m sure I did and wish with everything I could take those words back. A traveling husband is nowhere near close being a single mom and when I hear those words I just want to say you have no clue. But normally, I simply smile (but cringe within). It’s not the same, truly. Here’s why: there’s a reprieve coming,  you know it won’t last, the kids aren’t out of sorts and well, you know you’re ultimately not alone. So when you’re trying to think of a way to relate this is probably not it. Just be there. Love them.

2. They probably appear self centered – especially in the beginning. That’s because they’re trying to find a new normal. They’re not trying to ignore you or not be your friend – truly it’s about re-establishing a routine and trying to find normal and trying to make it through the days. It’s a great deal of work being a single mom – everything on one person’s shoulders and they really truly aren’t ignoring you. In fact, if they’re like me they probably go to bed most nights thinking that they’ve dropped the ball again.

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3. They’re tired. Plain and simple – tired. If someone gets sick they’re up. They have to drive everywhere. Manage everything. Work and be full time parent and not get stressed out. So back to point two – if they seem self-centered more than likely they’re simply beyond the point of exhaustion.

4. They deal with crazy emotions – of shame, not being worth it, feeling sad and so on. Expect that. We’re designed to think that the Hallmark ideal of life is the way to go and any time that is fragmented there’s a bit of re-adjusment. Even if it was for the good. Just remember grace for them. Sometimes holidays are hard. Or parent-teacher conferences. Or all of that. So if there’s a tear shed for a seemingly normal thing that just might be why. There’s a great deal of emotions to deal with – worth, value, can you do it – and sometimes it just takes a bit to get that all sorted.

5. They need friends. Chances are many people dropped them as friends. It’s hard to relate to that person now, in a way. I don’t blame the people who left – I understand – as I’m a different person now than I was five years ago. I still need friends. Girlfriends to laugh with and share times with and tell me it’s okay and just to be there for me. So chances are your friend needs that as well. Be the friend. I know it takes extra patience and grace and a whole lot of giving (especially in the beginning) but remember this is a major life shift and anytime that happens it takes a bit to regain one’s footing.

6. They’re still them but also not them. Deep down at the core. Maybe they seem distracted or busy or having to work, but deep deep down they’re still the person that you loved. They still probably love the things they did. Nurture that – remind them of those things. I love to garden but it took me almost two years before I wanted to garden again. Just like everything sometimes it takes time to get back to you. But listen, divorce and separation changes someone and oftentimes in that process it’s a bit of shedding of old self and identities so that the new person can emerge and thrive. The greatest gift you can give your friend is to love her through this process and not remind her of who she was but rather love her for who she is becoming. 

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7.  They have to work incredibly hard. In fact, harder than they thought possible. Oftentimes the burden of paying the bills falls onto the shoulders of one person and that is a huge weight to bear. And they have to work to just maintain life. And to discover that normal that we chatted about. So even if they’re working really hard they’re not trying to ignore you. Many times they’re just working to get ahead again.

8. Please don’t say I don’t know how you do it – you must be so strong! I know. I know – it’s meant to be good, but truthfully we simply don’t have a choice. In fact, I’ve kind of eliminated the phrase how do you do it from my list of things to say to someone. I think instead of encouraging it kind of makes the recipient think how in the world do I do it? And a single mom will tell you she has no choice. There’s no one to help with dinner or the kids or carpool or school or homework or any of it. Many times bedtime isn’t dictated by being tired but by trying to get as much done as possible before collapsing into bed.

9. Please don’t judge. I don’t think anyone wakes up and thinks that their ideal story in life is the one in which they parent alone. And I also don’t think that most people want to divulge all the behind the scenes details of their lives. Single moms don’t need to be judged or pitied – they just need to be your friend still. Even if their lives aren’t ideal – that, in fact, is the time when one needs more of a friend and less judging. It can be lonely in that world of judging. So just love them. They’ll love you for it.

10. Life can be great. That’s what I tell myself. And your single mom friend needs to believe that as well. Life can be good even if it’s not perfect. Be the friend that’s there for them. They’ll get used to their new routine, will find normal and will regain that balance. It just takes time. The biggest gift you can give them is that gift of time, not judging and simply being a friend. They value you greatly. I know I value my friends so much – the ones that have stuck with me and given me grace. Oh my goodness, I know that I haven’t been the best friend during this season, but I do try and love my friends for loving me.

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Here’s the bottom line truth: friendships matter. Greatly.

So does having that friend you can call at midnight or the friend who tells you that you are worth a million dollars so does having someone who loves you no matter what.

Be that friend.

And if you are the single mom reading this – you are not alone.

Because for so long I struggled with feeling alone and shame. And I didn’t want the world to think I had a not so perfect life. But truth is that life can be so beautiful and wonderful and valuable even if it doesn’t match the ideal.

~Rachel

ps.  And just like you they love their kids and want the best for them. Always.

pps. And their kids – they’re not a product of divorce – they’re just kids. Love them for who they are not for what their life circumstances may be.

 

A Pastor’s Apology to the Single Community!

A Pastor’s Apology To The Single Community

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This is a message to all those who are single or who have spent any years in the Church as a single person.

As a pastor who has served in local church ministry for the past 17 years, I wanted to apologize to you on behalf of so many of us who minister and who too often have failed you.

I am deeply sorry.

I’m sorry for the ways we unintentionally distanced you from community; the times that we overlooked your deep needs and your unique challenges as we planned and prepared.

I’m sorry for the times we relegated you to the segregated ghettos of Singles Ministry, making you feel that was enough to hold you over until you eventually graduated from your relational purgatory.

I’m sorry for the times you felt like an afterthought in our worship services. 

I’m sorry for the times you felt unwelcome or extraneous in our small groups.

I’m sorry for depriving you of the great richness of multigenerational ministry.

I’m sorry for the many times our sermon series lifted up Marriage and Family, and in the process ignored the awkwardness that might create for you.

I’m sorry for the way our programming and event schedules might have accidentally diminished your contributions and your worth.

I’m sorry for the way we so easily defaulted to lazy language that so often excluded you.

You need to know that this was never intentional, but even still, I know it is incredibly painful.

You need to know that you are valued and treasured and appreciated, even when we have failed to let you know.

You are The Church.

You are not second class Christians.

You are not inferior members of our communities.

You are not worth less than those who have found married life a reality.

Your singleness is not a temporary affliction that you need to be healed of, or a sad fate you need to be rescued from.

It is not a sign that your faith is suspect or that your prayers are not earnest or that your goodness is at all in doubt.

It is not proof of your character flaws or your moral failings or your lack of value. 

It is simply this place and time in your story.

You may not remain single forever, however if you do, that is not a defeat and it is not a compromise.

You are a child of God. There is never wrong or loss or failure in that.

You are not currently incomplete, biding time, just awaiting to be made half of something else.

You are a beautiful whole human being, made singularly and perfectly in the image of God.

We in leadership in the Church have often failed to really see you or have fallen short of pastoring you well.

We may do it again, and for that too I ask for forgiveness.

Never ever doubt how priceless your life is.

You are deeply and fully loved; every single one of you.

http://www.johnpavlovitz.com

God Loves the Singles (overview)

“The church picnic is this Saturday! Every FAMILY should bring enough for themselves and extra to share!”

“A church-wide fellowship is planned for Sunday evening. All families of the congregation are invited!”

” A comprehensive study of the book of Jonah starts Sunday in the Young Marrieds Class”

Have you ever noticed that we live in a couple-oriented society? Every event seems to be indicating an activity planned for couples or families. Yet………

The scene of society is changing rapidly. Statistics show that ten years ago in 1966, there were 10 million singles in the United States. Today, 1976, there are approximately 50 million singles (approximately one single person for every married couple……….. (fade……………………)

Amazing isn’t it. In 1976, Gary Beauchamp recognized that the power and potential of an increasing populace of singles was being exploited in the world. Yet, the church was SLOW to respond to the needs of singles. In any congregation, a person who is single, albeit through death, divorce or decision is a nonentity. They might be present for every service but not be known by leadership, budgeted for in meetings or have a relevant Bible study offered.

Today, in 2015, almost 40 years later, the number of singles has doubled. At this time, not a single church of Christ in Florida has a full time paid singles minister and few have deacons or elders responsible to this population. Few churches budget for the unmarried. Singles are treated as less important in the church if they are thought of at all. In a world full of trial and temptation, more and more of the unmarried are left out of the plans of the local church at a time when most churches are decrying decreased attendance and contribution. Half the population is not even invited to attend.

It must be “bad” to be single. Yet, the apostle Paul recommended the single life in 1 Corinthians 7:7-8. He called it a gift. Jesus saw singleness as a gift for some in Matthew 19:12. Of course, Jesus was a single man.

Somewhere along the line we seem to have picked up an odd opinion of what being single is. Many see singleness as a failure or abnormality cured only by marriage. And marriage is a challenge that many cannot conquer. God didn’t show favor for or against a person regarding their marital status. Having a relationship with Jesus Christ is the priority regardless of  this. Having Christ does not take away human desires for companionship. Nor does marriage. If a person is married for several years and they suffer the loss of a spouse because of death or divorce, the basic needs and drives remain the same.

In my opinion, the local church congregation has a responsibility to honor and nurture a person’s relationship with God regardless of whether they are single or married. 51% of the population is single. Let’s serve them equally!

Letter from a Single Mother

Karen Hamilton is a single mother and has been for many years. She raised three wonderful children (who are now three awesome adults), 2 girls and a boy. She taught respect and love for God, family and country. Read below to be encouraged.

This is on my heart this morning so I want to share. To all of you single Moms out there I want you to know that you matter. All of the blood, sweat and mostly tears that have and are a part of all that you do for your family matters. While you may not feel important or that anyone notices all the sacrifices you make, there is One who sees all and remembers. Heartbreak is a part of who you are but it is through those heartaches that you are able to relate and love others. The burden is not an easy one but it is a life well lived. So today just know that you are remembered and thought of by those of us who understand and by a God who loves you very much. ~Karen

 

God Loves the Single…on a date?

Disclaimer….you all know that I have a low opinion of dating! I really like the Josh McDowell book, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”, until I realized he was twelve years old (lol). But, really, too often we dismiss the awesome, wonderful Christian brother of sister because they are “too familiar”, “seem like a sister”, “too sweet”….etc. and chase after that tall dark and gruesome stranger. Why?

Ok! So, this post is not to talk you out of a date. It is to tell you what to do to have a nice time and please God.

You have a date…..

Things to think about:

* Dress comfortably and appropriately- It would probably be a good idea to discuss where you plan to go and dress in similar fashion. If you are going to a casual restaurant then dress comfortably. It can be awkward if the guy wears flip flops and a t-shirt and the girl is in a little (not too little, mind you) black dress. If you plan to walk or run, sneakers could be a good choice. Wash your hair, brush your teeth. Good hygiene is appreciated by most.

* Respect the wallet! Guys, don’t go broke trying to impress a woman with how much you can spend on dinner. Ladies, even if he seems loaded, help him keep some jingle in his pocket. It will be noticed.

* Respect the morals- I know none of you are tempted to go anywhere trashy but you could be surprised by circumstance. I’ll give you an example. As a young adult, I took a nice girl to the Lamplighter Dinner Theatre in Montgomery, AL. This was and probably still would be the pinnacle of sophistication in that city! Good choice? Yes! Affordable! Able to dress comfortably. BUT….didn’t research the play. “Cactus Flower”. The play opened with a girl in a skimpy night gown on a bed. I lost the connection with my date immediately. She was an elder’s daughter (and the sister of a boy who become a preacher). She was uncomfortable and it was my fault. And I drove too fast…..Fail!

* Consider the time- Even if neither has to awaken too early one should not keep someone out too late. Consider what your date (or you) might need to accomplish in the morning. Start a little early and come home early. If a Saturday night date, remember church service on Sunday morning.

* Compromising positions- Don’t! Beware hanging out on the couch…yada! yada! yada!

God recognized that it “was not good for man to be alone”. Enjoy your time getting to know potential mate…..or making a good friend. God loves you!

GOD Loves the Children of the Single Parent Equally!

God Loves the Children of the Single Parent Equally!

Statistics tell us that the children of Single Parent homes suffer in many ways:

*Higher incidence of depression

*Higher use of drugs and alcohol

*Higher rate of teenage pregnancy

*Higher drop out rate and/or lower grades

*Lower college attendance rate

I could simplify matters and state that it is simply a case of less parental supervision. I could villianize the parents, both the custodial and the absent parent. I could state that money and time is better spent on the “sure thing”, the kids with two interested parents. Ahh! So simple. Of course, if I did this I would have to admit that I would have done better if I had a stable upbringing. I would have to discount many wonderful and awesome successful men and women who were raised in single family homes. My oldest daughter suffered through the divorce of her parents (yes, I am half of that).

What is needed is equal access to finances when churches plan events for kids and their single parents. Also, needed are men and women who are willing to mentor these kids and who are willing to give the single parent support, encouragement or maybe a break in their busy schedule. Single parents and their children do not get enough attention from church leadership (or at the workplace). Take the plight of a single woman working as an RN at the local hospital.

*The single parent RN will spend almost twice as much money on child care as the married counterpart

*The single parent will miss twice as many days for illness of the children

*The single parent of a teenager will leave the child home alone at night more often because of work  responsibility. This will result in increased opportunity for involvement in pornography, drug and alcohol use and will increase the opportunity for sexual activity.

GOD loves these children too! Does the church?