More About Trust

tumbles hidesTrust is essential in relationships. It’s really the “bedrock” of any successful relationship. That’s why, really, we can only have a perfect relationship, with pure, unconditional love, with God. HE’s the only one completely trustworthy.

People fail. They always will, eventually, no matter how good the intentions. That, of course, doesn’t mean that we can’t have relationships with people. By all means, we can. We can forgive and move on. We can choose to trust again or choose to let someone earn our trust again. But the point is that there is not anyone alive who is perfectly trustworthy, who will never let you down.

We need trust to make relationships work. To build upon a foundation of trust is, I believe, the only way to build a good relationship.

I don’t remember where I’m going with this.

What do you do when the trust is shattered? What do you do when you simply cannot believe a word they say or an action they do or a motive they claim to have? At that point, there really is no relationship. Everything done or said is…empty.

I no longer know what my point was in this, but at least I wrote. Do you have any thoughts? I know it’s a pain to have to register to comment, but I have to make it that way to avoid tons of spam. If you have something to say, please take the time to register and leave some feedback.

Thank you!

Putting Work into Life

Oh, how I wish I’d learned a better work ethic at a younger age. I feel like maybe if I had learned earlier it wouldn’t be such a struggle now. Now, I feel like an old dog trying to learn a new trick, and it feels very much like an uphill battle. In fact, it has me determined to make sure I try to teach my kids this lesson from early on…

Life is Work

And Americans are lazy.

Or maybe just people, in general, are lazy?!

At the very least, I’m lazy, but I’m also pretty sure I’m not the only one!

My mom did her best raising me alone, and I’m so grateful for all that she taught me, but I still grew up lazy. I didn’t learn work ethic. I didn’t learn that life itself is work. Rather, I waited for everything to come to me. I never cleaned my room because I was happy to live in my own mess, I didn’t have to put in much effort to excel at school, and I didn’t even bother trying to get in shape though I was overweight from a pretty young age. In other words, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted, and played all the time, and never did anything that required effort unless I was literally forced into it.

EVERYTHING is Work

  1. Cleaning
    Now I’m grown, and I’m no longer happy with messes, but I am often too lazy to do anything about them because – well, because it’s work! And it’s not just a little work here and there, like when I was little and cleaned my room once every few month (yes, I know, lucky me – you probably had to clean every week). No, it’s not just a now-and-then thing; it’s a daily effort.
  2. Exercise
    I never exercised as a kid, despite being unhappy with my body. I never played sports, either. I just played with my friends once in a while and basically did what I wanted to do without worrying about whether I was active or not. And I didn’t know – that is, it never even occurred to me – that such a lifestyle wouldn’t be sufficient for my body. Even as a teenager, when I started to realize that some people may need to exercise to control their weight, I thought it was a last-ditch attempt, only to be really considered if dieting alone couldn’t fix the problem. I really thought I could continue my whole life this way! But God didn’t make our bodies to sit around inside all day on the computer! I believe He made our bodies to work and to play, and as our work becomes less and less active, we have to make an effort to exercise in order to stay healthy. Because it’s GOOD for us. It’s not a punishment, as I once believed. It’s not something you do because you have to in order to control your weight. It’s just a good, healthy habit that happens to require daily effort.
  3. Eating
    When I was younger, food was very much an instant gratification kind of thing. My single, working mother rarely had time to prepare a meal from scratch, so we ate a lot of frozen pizza, instant macaroni and cheese, and other such things. Now, I’m ashamed of all the junk I’ve put into my body for over 20 years, but at the same time I realize that in order to eat well, I have to intentionally work at it! And not just once in a while, but every day! I have to think about what I’m eating as well and when and why I’m eating it, and I have to take time out of my day to prepare it.
  4. Relationships
    Even my relationships take work! Who would have thought? In grade school, if you’re in my generation, you called your friends when you were bored, and you were allowed to talk, to maybe one of you would visit the other’s house – simple. The only potential problem was having one or the other set of parents say no for some reason. But as a grown-up, it’s not so simple any more. Friends all come with their own problems, and to have a good relationship, you can’t just call them when you’re bored; you have to be there for them when they need you. And sometimes you have to learn how to love people in spite of their flaws, or in spite of distance, or in spite of lack of time to “hang out!”

And the same is true for a relationship with God! As a child, my mom prayed with me before bed and before meals, and I went to Sunday school. As a teenager, I started to understand that it required more than that, and I started to try harder, but I still thought that it would be easy. Only now am I beginning to understand how much daily work has to be put into that relationship to keep it really strong.

Skills, and the maintaining of them, is the same way. Oy with the work already!

Teaching Work Ethic

How will I (eventually) teach my kids about work? How will I get them to understand good work ethic?

  • Well, I guess the first step is learning it myself. And I’m trying to – really, I am. For the past few months, I’ve been working on building one good habit each month so that I learn to do the things that are good for me. 🙂
  • And I think another part of it will be building good habits in them when they’re young. (I always thought that if I’d been made to play a sport when I was a kid, I would have had a much easier time learning a habit of daily exercise.) I can see it now… my kids will probably hate me for making them do things, and I will wish they could see how I’m doing it for their own good… and it’s probably going to be way harder than I anticipate. But hopefully I can help a little by teaching them healthy habits.
  • Finally, if I can teach them what my friends and I learned in our study of Ecclesiastes last year. All is vanity. Too much work is no good, but neither is too much play. BALANCE is important. So, have one hand of toil and one hand of rest. I think I can help to teach my kids a healthy work ethic by helping them rest and enjoy play- and rest-time. first time baking bread!

Just some thoughts…

Think about what goes into your body. Think about exercise. Think about your relationships. By not allowing play time to be all day, every day, it becomes more precious to me when I do get that time, and my quiet times are more able to fuel me for the work I know I must do for the rest of the time.

And the best part is that work doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Work is rewarding! And when I’m feeling lazy, that’s exactly what I try to remind myself of! lol

(An example of rewarding work: Me with my first-ever homemade bread!)

Positive Reinforcement

I’m working on my ability to use positive reinforcement in my life, but I’m finding it very difficult. This seems to be something that does not come naturally to some people – or maybe all people (or just Americans) – but it is a very useful tool. I think that many relationships in my life and in yours could benefit from using positive reinforcement more often.

Definition

One easy way to define positive reinforcement is by contrasting it with its opposite, which is, of course, negative reinforcement.

  • Negative reinforcement tries to alter behavior by removing a negative stimulus. Wikipedia’s examples include a child being granted the request for his parents to turn off an annoying song and a mouse avoiding a shock by pressing the correct button.
  • Positive reinforcement, on the other hand, involves giving a reward or positive stimulus in order to alter behavior. For example, you give your dog a treat when he correctly performs a trick he is learning, and you reward your child with desert for sharing (or something).
  • Punishment attempts to alter behavior by presenting some sort of unpleasant stimulus when a wrong behavior is exhibited. For instance, shocking a dog when he barks or putting a misbehaving child in time-out (or giving said child a spanking). Some people group this as a type of negative reinforcement, but it is actually more similar to positive reinforcement since it involves adding a stimulus to an environment, rather than taking one away.

Usefulness

We seem to use positive reinforcement naturally and easily when dealing with animals. We speak in happy, high-pitched voices to praise them, and it’s really easy because the animal usually doesn’t care what words are actually coming out of our mouths. We give them treats, which is also easy because we buy them at the store, and one tastes as good as another as far as our animals are concerned.

But we don’t always find it as easy to use positive reinforcement in relationships with our peers. In fact, even in parent-child relationships, it is often easier to use punishment and negative reinforcement. Perhaps part of the reason is the complexity of human beings: Children have different tastes and appreciate different types of rewards. The tastes vary not only from person to person; they can even change from one year to the next, or within an even shorter span of time. Children, and people in general, also tend to get bored. They don’t want to be rewarded for their behavior the same way every time.

We can throw our dogs a treat from the same box every time they do well, but humans need variety, or the reward will lose meaning.

Benefits

Because of my upbringing, I think it’s especially easy for me to use negative reinforcement by default. I usually feel that there is no need to comment on something unless it’s wrong or bothering me. If I could learn to use positive reinforcement instead, I think my relationships would benefit quite a bit.

Only I know how pleased I am with something unless I say so. If I say nothing, no one knows. If they only hear the negative, they see me as a negative person in turn, and sometimes will come away feeling unappreciated or brought down by my complaints. Maybe you have found yourself in situations like that as well.

The other option is to refrain from voicing the majority of negative thoughts and instead focus on the positive. Initially, this will not change your thoughts. You’re still having the same number of negative thoughts and the same number of positive thoughts, but you’re voicing and acting on the positive rather than the negative. At first, struggling through the awkward sensations of change, only others will notice a difference, I think. Over time, though, I can’t imagine but that this would begin to change you inside, too. I think you would eventually grow to appreciate the positive more, notice it more, and find more things to praise or reward.

Of course, some of that is only speculation, because I’m still working on this ability.

What about you? Do you find it easy or hard to use positive reinforcement? I’d love to hear from you. I’d especially love to hear if you’ve been able to teach yourself to use positive reinforcement and how you did so. Are there any other benefits you see to using one type of behavior reinforcement over another?

Speak Your Mind to Have a Healthy Social Life

It’s frustrating to me to try and be friends with someone who won’t speak his mind. And no, this isn’t a post asking for comments! I’m talking about speaking your mind, just in every day life. Do you hold back rather than tell a friend he has something in his teeth? Do you agree to go along with some activity you really don’t want to do? Do you smile and nod and say everything is fine when it’s not?

Stop fearing rejection and speak your mind!

People won’t always care what I have to say, but I still make an effort to speak my mind. Personally, I’ve gone through periods in my life where I’ve blamed my circumstances or the people around me for my social life – or lack thereof. I’ve been there, and the memory of it is still fresh. I think I’m finally coming to terms with my responsibility – my part – when it comes to my social life.

You know, I know, we all know that you can’t make people like you. You can do some things that encourage people to like you, or at least you can encourage them to like the part of yourself that you’re choosing to show, but you can’t force anyone to like you. That will sometimes happen, sometimes not. However! That doesn’t mean that it is everyone else’s job to become your friend. If you or I want healthy friendships, marriages, or any kind of relationships at all, we have to realize that our actions, thoughts, and words have a direct impact on the quality of our social lives.

Speaking Your Mind the Right Way

Speaking your mind in the positive sense that I’m talking about leads to several things:

  1. I will have been true to myself, and any relationships I have will have been formed on the truth. I will not have deceived anyone into thinking I’m something other than what I really am.
  2. I will feel better having let my real opinion be known. I won’t feel as if I’ve had to bottle up my feelings until it’s time to burst.
  3. I will have learned to give my friends and loved ones the benefit of the doubt. I trust them to care about me enough to accept my opinions, and I also trust the strength of our relationship enough to believe that if they neglect to ask me, it’s not for lack of caring.

I think the third point is my favorite and is also a major stumbling block for people who have trouble speaking their minds. As you noticed, it’s two-fold. I’m still working on the second half of it, because it means that if no one asks about my day, I can take a step of faith and tell them without fearing that the reason they didn’t ask is because they don’t care to know. It also means I can approach my loved ones with problems they may not have perceived, believing that they probably would have asked if they had known I was upset and that I needed them. Similarly, I can strengthen relationships by reaching out to my friends in ways that they neglect to reach out to me, all because of that same trust that I choose to place in them. If I give them the benefit of the doubt, I can care for and love them a little more freely.

Yor Doin It WrongI Can Has Cheezburger

I just want to clarify that when I advocate speaking your mind, I don’t mean that it’s correct for every circumstance. There are wrong times and wrong ways of doing it, so be careful. Doing it wrong has pretty much the opposite effect – it will hurt your relationships. The balance that must be found should not scare you away from speaking your mind altogether, though. Many things must be balanced upon a knife edge, or are separated by only a fine line. The difference between speaking your mind the right and wrong way, however, is much bigger. Think “balanced on a dull sword blade.” Something like that.

  1. Don’t take advantage of trust by criticizing. Likely, your relations care about you enough to want to hear what you have to say, but that doesn’t mean they feel you have a right to critique everything they do or criticize them on a regular basis. Of course, you wouldn’t do that, but it would be speaking your mind. Just in the wrong way.
  2. Don’t force others to do it your way all the time. Yes, I advise that you speak up if there is an activity being planned that you don’t want to be part of. But it’s still a good idea to kindly go along with others’ ideas sometimes, even if it wouldn’t have been your choice. (Wendy’s is not my favorite restaurant, but when a group of friends is going, there’s no need to make a big deal out of it.)
  3. Don’t just blurt out anything at any time. Use tact! Speak in a way that shows you’re just expressing your opinion, not trying to shoot down someone else’s ideas.

Responsibility For Your Social Life

As you take responsibility for and control of your social life, see if these tips help you at all. Or maybe these are things that you already do, or you have suggestions for additions to the list. If so, how about leaving a comment and sharing?

Christianity Part 2

Part one was about understanding what it means to become a Christian. But that was only part one because there is more to living as a Christian than just making the decision. As I said before Christian means Christ-like; therefore, belief is important as a first step, but belief was not meant to be the end. Christianity is less about what you believe than how you live! It’s how you walk, why you walk, where you’re walking to, and who you’re walking with – that’s what Christianity is about.

Why

The reason we walk is our belief. We believe in Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, who was given to die as a ransom for us, to cover our wretchedness with his blood and make a way for us to approach God. We believe in God’s Holy Spirit, who lives in us and reminds us of His words. We believe that our sins are forgiven us, and that we will live eternally with our God even after this life ends. We believe that the world needs Jesus in order to experience both this life and the next life fully – because the majority of the world currently exists dead in their trespasses (Colossians 2:13), because of the original sin (Genesis 3), and because the devil seeks to destroy us constantly (1 Peter 5:8).

Where

Where we’re walking is on the narrow path, through the small gate (Matthew 7), toward eternal life in God’s presence. We go toward that place where there will be no more pain or weeping, where perfection is restored to God’s creation. (Revelation 21)

How

The way we walk is in love. Love for our family, our friends, our enemies, our authority, our subordinates. Sound odd? Love them? The greatest two commandments God gave us, according to Jesus, are to love the Lord our God and to love our neighbor. (Matthew 22) If we don’t walk in love, all our good deeds are in vain. (1 Corinthians 13) And if we don’t walk in love, we are not Christians because 1) we’re not living like Christ, who IS love (also see John 3:16) , and 2) Christ says that we are known by our fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit. (Luke 6) But the trick is that only through Him is such love possible. Really, it’s God loving through us, and we are willing to let Him.

Who

Our companion is also our savior. We walk with a God who is bigger than all the problems we face, Jesus who faced worse than we ever will, and the Holy Spirit who comforts us and counsels us as we walk. This relationship between me and the God-head is my reason for keeping on going, it’s how I get through, it’s what I’m aiming for, and it’s the whole point. It’s everything wrapped up in one, this relationship, this love.

I’m not saying there is nothing else worth mentioning about life as a Christian, but I wanted to point out these things, at the very least. I’d be happy to hear your thoughts and questions!

Don’t Stop Arguing

I want to encourage those of you in relationships, or those who aren’t yet but hope to be, not to stop arguing. That’s right, I think arguing is a good thing, and I’m not the only one! (See this or that) Arguing is a sign “that you and your partner feel secure enough to express yourselves without fearing judgments.” A complete lack of arguments usually indicates a shallow relationship.

Don’t Pick Fights; Fight Fair

I don’t think you should pick fights, and I’m not saying you should argue more in order to have a deeper relationship. I’m saying that arguments happen, and it’s not a bad thing. In and of itself, an argument just means that two deep-thinking people have differing opinions, or sometimes that there has been a miscommunication or misunderstanding. The problems stem from how we handle the arguments when they occur. We should still continue to give our partner the benefit of the doubt. That is, don’t assume they’re trying to start something or insult you; rather, assume that he, too, is trying to be understanding of you and simply express his mind.

My husband and I have been working on the art of arguing throughout our relationship, which started as “just friends” in middle school. We both still remember that day at the lunch table, back when I was a more-physically-aggressive version of myself, when I clawed his arm until he bled during a Just Quit It! type of argument. There have been hurtful incidents on his part an d my part: He used to get frustrated and try to hurt me, and I sometimes tend to assume the worst in him. We haven’t always fought fair, but with nine years of practice, and we’re starting to get the point.Michy & Marty

The Point is Love

The biggest thing I remember when we do get into arguments is that we love each other. Through nine years of arguing and making up, we have always loved each other, and we know that in the end, we just want to be heard and understood. That’s why we can forgive and move on with a strengthened relationship. Not only strengthened by withstanding the gale, but also deepened though mutual understanding. He knows a little more of my mind, and vice versa.

One of Hubby’s and my favorite quotes is from Matt Chandler, from his sermon “Sex Pt. 2.”

“There’s always this point in time when we say this is the person I want to fight with for the rest of my life, this the person I want to do life with.”

Dos and Don’ts

Whether or not all’s fair in love and war, there are some basic guidelines that make fair fighting a little easier. And, well, successful. I am taking these from Saving Your Marriage Before It Starts by Parrott and Parrott, as it was the first book I read that had them laid out so clearly.

1. Don’t Criticize – Criticizing involves attacking someone’s personality rather than his behavior, and it entails blaming and accusing. These are usually “you” statements. You do this, you don’t do that, you could have, you should have…

2. Don’t be Contemptuous – Contempt is the intention to insult or physically abuse your partner. This can show up through name-calling and mockery, especially.

3. Don’t Stonewall – This is usually, but not always, done by men. Stonewalling is a way of withdrawing from the situation, sometimes in an attempt to avoid escalating the situation further. But it also makes the person appear as if he is not listening or no longer cares about the situation, or worse, his partner.

4. Do Choose Carefully – There are a lot of issues that can, and should, be overlooked. Not everything is worth a fight. Ask yourself if it’s worth it!

5. Do Define the Issue – It’s easy to see when it’s someone else, but often when we fight, one person may think the fight is about one issue while the other person sees the issue as something completely different. Ask yourselves and each other what the real source of the disagreement is.

6. Do State Feelings – Two parts to this. One, use “I” statements rather than the “You” statements mentioned above. Two, use the “X, Y, Z” formula. To take an example from the book, “’When we are riding in the car (X), and you change the radio station (Y), I feel hurt that my desires are not considered (Z).’ That is far more constructive to your partner than saying, ‘You never consider my feelings when it comes to music.’ Although the latter may be what first comes to your mind, it’s likely to draw a defensive response that gets you nowhere.”

Intimacy

It’s natural to find conflict in deep, intimate relationships. Dealing with it correctly makes us more intimate, not less. I hope that you can take away from this an understanding of how to begin fighting more fairly. Is there another do or don’t you think should be added to the list?

Housewiving vs. Sims

Inspired by a xanga post I read earlier yesterday, I wanted to talk a little bit about being a housewife. I love being able to take care of our home. It’s a big job, and I know that if my husband and I both worked full-time outside jobs the house would suffer for it. But being a house-wife or a house-husband is about more than just housekeeping. (Let’s see, there’s budgeting, cooking, decorating, and some other things…  :-P)

When I first read the above-mentioned post, I was really impressed by the author’s insight into things we might take for granted. I am still impressed. I am a pretty big fan of The Sims, starting from the first version of the PC game, which my best friend and I would stay up all night playing, at times (and go to bed dreaming of smoke alarms and green diamond things over everyone’s heads). I never really thought about all the ridiculous things in the game quite as in-depth as this before:

“If I don’t want to be with you anymore,
I simply don’t call you or invite you over,
and our relationship fades without the
drama of breakups.”

“I don’t have laundry and wearing the
same outfit everyday isn’t gross at all.”

Easy Peasy…

Sounds great! It would certainly make housekeeping much easier. I mean, sure there are some puddles to mop up when the sink breaks – or you could just leave them for a day and they’ll dry up on their own. And, of course, you still have to load the dishwasher even if unloading is magically automatic. I like the sound of that. Every meal take the same amount of time to make and creates very little mess and literally no clean-up aside from the dishes from which you eat. Dust is non-existent, as is mud – due to the lack of rain.

But Not So Different…

But that’s just the housekeeping side. What else is involved in being a housewife? In another post, I mentioned that I liked selling Avon because I could make my own hours. One of the important parts of being a housewife is for me to be able to be good company and a good helper for my spouse. I do that by trying to do most my my work while he is doing his work. That way, when he comes home, we can have a meal together, watch TV, play a video game, or just hang out. This applies even if when he comes home he wants to spend some time alone, doing his thing.

This is an area where I find real life to be very similar to The Sims. When I play The Sims, I find that I have to put quite a bit of concentrated effort into initially growing the relationship of the two Sims who I want to marry. After that, I sometimes forget that they still need to spend time together until one of them suddenly pops up with a wish to kiss his spouse or hug her, or woo-hoo with her. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind, even in a game like that, and forget that relationships require time and effort. Actually, they require much more time and effort than taking care of the house.

So To Wrap Up

Are there other similarities you see between The Sims and real housewiving? I didn’t want to include too much in one post, but feel free to bring up other aspects of being a housewife that you find equally important! What do you do to take care of your home and your family?