Anyone from my generation, and even today’s generation, if asked whether they’ve heard of the song, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, would say ‘YES…’ It is an iconic song released in 1970 by Simon & Garfunkel. It came out at a time when our country was going through tremendous turmoil over the Vietnam War, race relations, the cold war, and a dramatic rebellious cultural shift away from ‘The Great Generation’s’ traditional values. I remember those days well.
Many times, over my life, this song has spoken to me when going through challenges, heartaches, and loss. It has also motivated me to befriend others who were going through the same. One thing that occasionally happens to me at times when hearing classic songs such as this one, is for God to speak in His still, small voice to my heart and say, ‘I’m your friend and will help you get through your troubled water too’.
He’s good about speaking to our hearts at just the right time. It’s just like Him to take a song written to address the culture around us at the time, even if it’s 49 years old, and apply it directly to our own situations in a personal, loving way.
Tonight, if you’re going through a challenge and feel all alone, I wanted to remind you too that there is a friend ‘Who sticks closer than a brother’ and who wants to help you through the challenges you may be facing. I want to encourage you to listen to this song below, read the lyrics, and imagine it’s God speaking to you; because He says this to us every day (classic song or not). And remember, you are loved, and you will get over the troubled water to find peace again. Whatever It may be…
As I get older it seems one of the main topics of conversation has become none other than the weather. It may also be due to the fact that I live in Texas where the weather can make dramatic changes from one day to the next. When I lived in Northern California, the weather was the least talked about topic. Every day it was sunny and 65 degrees. Not bad, I know.
When I was young, we were lucky to know what the weather may be like in the morning let alone the hourly forecast for the next two weeks. It seems technology has brought all of the science right into our hands these days which can help us plan our entire week around the forecast. Or, cause one to be OCD about every cloud in the sky (me).
Having a positive weather outlook seems to change our view of our entire day. Having the thought of possibly facing thunderstorms on the way to or from work can also dampen our day. Why does our outlook on life tend to follow the weather outlook anyway? Does the weather have anything to do with how well I do my job? Maybe, but probably not so much. Does it affect my relationships? Not really. Does it affect my ability to live life comfortably? YES.
Life seems to have enough stresses these days and
the thought of having to deal with baseball sized hail falling from the sky is
just about the last straw. It’s enough for most of us to keep our lives in
order let alone have to deal with flooding waters coming into our home, tornados,
and in these southern states, even hurricanes.
Can’t it just be sunny all the time?
The truth is that life is like the weather. We don’t always know what we’ll be facing every day. Our life may be stormy one day and sunny the next. Having a positive outlook will help us to deal with those changes as they come. Life will throw those baseball sized hail balls at us and they may even do damage we weren’t prepared for. How we prepare and how we react to them will make all the difference.
If there’s one thing I know more than anything else, it’s that we have a loving God who cares about every aspect of our day. He even cares about the weather. He cares if we’re flooded, have hail destroy our car, or have winds blow over that tree in the front yard.
Most of all, He cares even more about the storms we will face in life. During the worst of storms, He will be there to shelter us and guide us through to safety. He knows the future and will prepare us for that day when we face the unexpected changes that try to wreak havoc in our life. In the end, He will be the light that shines on our path. He will bring warmth in the cold, clarity when it seems foggy, and new life by washing away all the dirt. We can have a positive outlook no matter what the weather is like outside. Because of Him…
We’ve all heard it before, ‘Expect the Unexpected’ in relation to our work, our kids, or life in general. It’s true. There is something to the practise of being prepared for nearly anything that could come our way. Eliminating the surprise is half the battle. It’s when we aren’t expecting those changes that come our way that we are affected the most.
Last Saturday I was helping to mow a friend’s yard who is elderly. She has several trees in the front that haven’t been pruned very well, and over time, have grown several large limbs at a height someone like me, who is six-feet-tall, needs to avoid.
Sure enough, as I was rambling on with the mower listening to my Spotify mix, I suddenly felt, and heard, a crack on the top of my head. Stepping back, I realized what had happened. I walked full speed into one of the largest tree limbs smacking the top of my head. It felt like someone had hit me in the head with a baseball bat. It was very painful.
For the rest of that day, and the day after, I struggled with dizziness and the feeling like I was going to faint. Had I not have given blood that morning and been working in the hot sun for several hours prior, I probably would have had the Mrs. take me to the hospital for an MRI. But, I knew most of what I was feeling was just fatigue and dehydration. Still, the whack on the head was very unexpected. I went back today to mow her grass again and, rest assured, I was very aware of that limb this time.
Running into that tree was a good lesson for me. It reminded me that we can be moving along on our path of life focused on the task at hand and not even be looking out for the giant limb that’s about ready to knock us in the head if we don’t duck. I’m sure there are many of you who can relate. There may have been a time when you were living life just chugging ahead with your job and family, when there was a sudden log in the road, tree limb in your path, or just an unexpected obstacle that caused you pain.
The shock of running into those obstacles can shake us and cause us to doubt ourselves. Like most people when they run into barriers, I initially turned on myself to place the blame. If you’re like me, all I could think of was, ‘How did I not see that coming?’ and ‘You could have killed yourself right here in this woman’s yard. What would the Mrs. do?’ I asked myself. ‘You’ve been mowing lawns for over forty years and you would think by now you would know better?’… I think my ego was bruised more than head, frankly.
We may not be able to prevent events from
happening that bring those unexpected logs to block our path or limbs to knock
us in the head, but we can learn from them.
If we allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes and take them as a
lesson on what not to do, we’ll be way ahead of what may lay await for us in
If you’ve run into one of those limbs and acquired a nice lump on your head, you’re not alone. Whether it was physical, emotional, or something in a relationship, you can learn from it. You may find yourself doing what I did initially by beating yourself up for it. If you are, I would encourage you to give yourself a break this time and instead ask yourself if there was anything you could have done differently that would have prevented it from happening.
Sometimes, however, there isn’t anything we could have done, but for those times when there is something we could have done, take a close look at how, what, and when it happened so that you can be prepared in the future to help prevent it from happening again. And most of all, always remember that you’re human and God loves you just the way you are; bumps on the head included…
The Mrs will tell you that I’ve never been one of those people who spontaneously stop by someone’s home just to say ‘Hi’. She, on the other hand, is the opposite. If she thinks a neighbor or friend needs something, she won’t hesitate to stop by and bring them a meal or just talk.
Just this evening, on the way back from dinner, we passed by a friend’s home. I jokingly blurted out, ‘Hey, let’s go knock on their door and say we were just stopping by!’ thinking we really wouldn’t stay, but that we could all get a good laugh just by the surprise visit. After all, no one would expect uninvited company on a Friday evening!
The Mrs, thinking I was serious, and would love to hang out at their house, said, ‘Yeah. That would be fun’. Like a dummy, I had to tell her I was just joking because my mind was so fried from a long week of work, I could barely keep my eyes open, and we had dogs that needed to be let outside.
Fortunately, we balance each other out when it comes to our social life. If I were more like her, we wouldn’t spend much time alone. If she were more like me, we would stay home most of the time. So, in the end, we both make compromises to keep the other happy.
When I was younger, it was much more common to stop by uninvited just to drop off some homemade cookies or to say ‘Hi’ to family and friends. It also made a good excuse for my mother to use in order to get us to do our chores; because of the ‘Just in case someone stops by’ factor.
Today, we need to plan at least a week in advance and put it on our phone, or Facebook invite, to remind us. Socially, it’s even considered rude by some people today to stop by uninvited. For us, if someone came by our house just to say ‘Hi’, we would be more than happy to let them in and share a cup of coffee. We may be embarrassed because the house wasn’t picked up as well as we would prefer it to be if having company over, but most people won’t care about that.
So, tonight, as we’re huddled up at home by ourselves getting ready to watch a sci-fi show together, here’s to breaking all the rules this weekend and finding a random friend’s house we can stop by just to say ‘Hi’! Don’t worry, we probably won’t do it, but just in case…
I’ll leave you with a very funny video below that relates to the random visit. I promise it will give you a laugh if you’re near my age and can relate…
I don’t know about you, but I know I can safely
say there have been times when I was asked by others to help with something or to
commit to time that I otherwise had planned for something else, that I hesitated
while contemplating the weight of the decision. It was as if each decision was
measured by some invisible scale that I had constructed over time to help
determine whether I could afford it financially, emotionally, or physically.
Having been raised in a home which, at times, had very little money, I learned to make what I had go as far as I could. Even so, for as long as I can remember I’ve been generous and shared what I had with others. Regardless, at times there has been a little voice in my head that pulled back and hesitated from letting go of what I had; for whatever reason.
Our decision to help others is usually based on how
well we know that person; whether they’re family or a close friend verses some
stranger off the street who we’ve never met.
Due to the influence of social media, today we’re more guarded than ever
with trusting others who ask for our help having seen so many people taken
advantage of or stolen from. One thing
is for certain, though, if that person is someone we’re close to, say a family
member or close friend, most of us would do almost anything to help them if
they truly needed it.
Ironically, if we can break through our fears and
hesitations to help, the sense of joy and wholeness we have afterward far outweighs
the self-preservation we felt to start with.
It’s as though the burden we thought would ensue has lifted and we now feel
better than before knowing we made a difference in someone else’s life; that we
had a purpose.
It’s when we see that person not as an object or someone taking from us, but as one closest to us whom we love (possibly more than ourselves) that we’re free to let go and give. It’s love that takes away the burden of helping and turns it into an act of joy. It’s love that takes the fear we feel of letting go of something we own and turns it into satisfaction knowing that someone else was helped by it even more than ourselves.
There’s a song from the 60’s by The Hollies called, ‘He Ain’t Heay He’s My Brother’ that really puts it all into context. The song talks about helping to carry another’s burden along a long road with many winding turns. Yet, their burden isn’t heavy because ‘He’s my brother’.
That’s where I want to be. I have a long way to go still, but on this road of life I’m bound to come across others nearly every day who will need my help. If I can see them though love’s eyes as my brother, that load won’t be heavy. Indeed, it will be light and we’ll both get there together…
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a sensitive person. Looking back, I can see times when that sensitivity caused insecurity, self-consciousness, and sometimes, a little bit of paranoia. Being the one to pick up when others were angry, being judgmental, or the opposite when they were truly being kind, was something I thought everyone could feel. I later realized that it was, and is, something not all people have. In fact, some people are the exact opposite and railroad everyone around them.
It’s not that I want to be constantly sensitive to things around me. Far from it. It has caused me more moments of angst than I can count. As life has progressed and I’m now in my fifties, I’m able to understand those senses and see them for what they are. I no longer allow them to determine my emotional state. It’s now something that can be used to help make wise decisions, understand people who may not want to share their true emotions, and even sense when others living miles away are hurting about something (don’t ask).
Being sensitive to others is a trait often associated with the female gender. Men, typically, are the ones who are thought to be insensitive often consumed by their pride. Today, more than it was thirty or forty years ago, it’s the male who tends to be the ‘sensitive’ one. What has contributed to that is something for a sociologist to determine. Suffice to say, it’s no longer the ‘Man’s world’ we used to know; and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
If that’s you and you’re one of those sensitive types,
there are a few things you can do to manage those feelings to prevent them from
overwhelming you. It’s not easy, but it
is possible to control those feelings.
The first thing I would suggest is to realize that
every emotion you sense isn’t necessarily reality. Our mind, and hearts, can play tricks on us
in ways we won’t understand until it’s too late; if we let them.
The second is to ask yourself, ‘Is that emotion something I’m feeling as a result of my own fears, wants, or desires?’ Meaning, ask yourself if you are feeling something because of what you hope or fear to be real. Often, it’s something we fear more than reality.
Another is to think about the emotion you’re feeling when around another person as possibly something they are dealing with. The cold truth is that we all feel a vast array of emotions throughout the day. None of us are perfect. Even the most polished, confident person on the outside may be dealing with such things as depression, addiction, shame, and fear. They may have a poor self-image that they try to counter with perfectionism.
Finally, before assuming what you’re sensing is just you, take a moment and ask God if He may be trying to tell you something about another person. He may want you to pray for them or encourage them. He does that. A lot! He knows all our feelings, needs, and emotions and is likely to share some of those with others who have a heart of compassion. That sensitivity may just be something God can use to help bless others. I know He has in my life.
Take joy because it’s a special gift to have sensitivity. It’s not something to be ashamed of or to hide behind. It’s something to mature in and allow God to use to bless those around you. When you do, I guarantee you’ll be blessed, and so will others…
Of all the challenges people face in marriage relationships, communication is at the top of the list. Not that physical affection, money, and respect aren’t important, but without the ability to listen and express ourselves clearly, misunderstandings are inevitable which only lead to arguments, resentment, and walls.
Many of us have heard the example, ‘Men are from Mars and woman are from Venus’ and, certainly, God did make us different. Those stereotypes don’t always work, however. The Mrs and I are a mixture of Mars and Venus; sometimes, I’m more Venus and she’s more Mars. In the end, we balance each other out and have learned to understand and appreciate our differences.
That’s really the key, isn’t it; understanding our differences? So many people try to make the other person into their own image of who, or what, they should be rather than appreciating their differences and respecting them. One thing is for certain, trying to change a person we are in a relationship with is nothing less than the kiss of death because we were never made to change each other. That’s God’s job.
I’ve seen many relationships fall apart from one person trying to control the other. I’ve been in one myself. One person always trying to please the other but not being able to. The other putting unreal expectations on them trying to force them to be something they aren’t.
The first step in bridging the gap between two people is respect for how God made them and the humility to accept that we, ourselves, are not perfect either. That openness of allowing the other person to be themselves, flaws and all, along with our own humble attitude of who we are, will eventually build a bridge of mutual respect.
So tonight here’s to taking the first step in allowing those who we are in a relationship with to simply be themselves. Secondly, here’s to keeping a humble heart being the first to forgive and the last to point the finger. If we can do that, we’ll see changes happen in all our relationships for the positive.