Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Breaking the First Rule of Small Talk

This post from the What's Best Next Blog by Matt Perman, senior director of strategy at Desiring God, made me smile. I picture all the awkward small talk that I've had in my life and I have to laugh.

Some people instantly welcome you into warmth and comfort with their small talk. With others it can be both stiff and awkward. Why?

Perman quotes author Keith Ferrazzi, and I think there is something to be said for his point of view.

Small talk experts claim that when you first meet a person, you should avoid unpleasant overly personal, and highly controversial issues.

Wrong! Don't listen to these people! Nothing has contributed more to the development of boring chitchatters everywhere. The notion that everyone can be everything to everybody at all times is completely off the mark. Personally, I'd rather be interested in what someone was saying, even if I disagreed, than be catatonic any day.

There's one guaranteed way to stand out in the professional world: Be yourself. I believe that vulnerability--yes vulnerability--is one of the most underappreciated assets in business today. Too many people confuse secrecy with importance...And as a rule, not many secrets are worth the energy required to keep them secret.

Being up front with people confers respect; it pays them the compliment of candor. The issues we all care most about are the issues we all want to talk about most. Of course, this isn't a call to be confrontational or disrespectful. It's a call to be honest, open, and vulnerable enough to genuinely allow other people into your life so that they can be vulnerable in return.

I think we often take ourselves too seriously. And while I think it is unwise to 'air all our dirty laundry' to everyone, I also resonate with Ferrazzi's thought that, "not many secrets are worth the energy required to keep them secret.

I'm a Christian so I know I'm flawed. The only thing that makes me acceptable is that I am "in the Beloved." In all truth, I feel more comfortable with someone who knows my imperfections (and hopefully still likes me) then with someone who thinks I'm better then I actually am.

I also feel much more comfortable with people who are transparent. Those who show the real them with quirks and all. And honestly, the people who are the most fun to be with are the ones that can really laugh at themselves.

I need to be willing to welcome people into my world. I suppose the worst that could happen is that someone will think I'm a bit of a fool...and they may be right. But maybe someone else would feel warm and welcomed.

Happy Birthday, My Love

Whoever came up with the idea of the 'seven year itch' didn't know what they were talking about. Sorry George Axelrod, Billy Wilder or whoever.

My love for you grows every year. You are the best man I have ever known. Being married to you is truly a foretaste of heaven.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mr. Boss Man

My two year-old recently created a new game called 'farm.' And by 'farm' he doesn't mean "You're a horse and I'm a cow" or "I'm on the combine," but rather, he says to me, "I'm Daddy and you're Dave."

In case you're wondering, Dave is the hired man. So our game goes something like this:

My little boy takes an authoritative stance and says loudly, "Dave, help me get this fixed." or "Dave, go ahead and open that door for me." and often, "Dave...DAVE, I need your help here!" Etc. etc., all day long.

I'm beginning to think he just figured out a way to be bossy without getting in trouble.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hope for Miserable Christians

If you have never realized your guilt or guiltiness before God you will never have joy in Christ. It is impossible.
So says Martyn Lloyd-Jones in his book Spiritual Depression: It's Causes and It's Cure. I have heard his name often in certain circles, but I can't say that I've read too much of his work. After reading this book, I can now say that I am smitten. His writing is especially insightful. It cuts straight to the heart and I find it very readable.

The second chapter discusses the person who has had a Christian upbringing, always goes to church, and yet is remarkably miserable. This person sees the joy that new believers have and says, "I wish I had been living their kind of life so that I could also have their marvelous experience." Lloyd-Jones exposes the truth underlying this statement. This person does not believe that they are as much a sinner as the other person. I think you would be hard pressed to find a person who admits to thinking this even though deep down this is what they feel in their heart. The devastating result is that the joy of Christ's particular salvation for them is greatly diminished or non existent.

How do I know if this type of self-righteous thinking has crept into my own heart? Here is the test according to Lloyd-Jones:
'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' (Mark 12:30,31). Forget all about drunkards and their like, forget all the people you read about in the press at the present time. Here is the test for you and me: Are you loving God with all your being? If you are not,...you are a sinner of the deepest dye, whether you know it and feel it or not. (p.30)
And here is another test:
John 17:3: 'This is life eternal to know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent'. So the test we apply to ourselves is that. Not, 'Have I done this or that?' My test is a positive one: 'Do I know God? Is Jesus Christ real to me?' I am not asking whether you know things about Him but do you know God, are you enjoying God, is God the centre of your life, the soul of your being, the source of your greatest joy?...You and I are meant to be like that, and if we are not like that, it is sin. (p. 31)
We need to stop thinking about particular sins and comparing ourselves to others. "What determines whether we are sinners is not what we have done, but our relationship to God." (p.34) Jesus Christ is our righteousness. He is the only one who can truly deal with our sin. It is incredibly freeing to look to Him for help and salvation.
Salvation is all in Christ, and unless you feel yourself shut up to Christ with everything else having failed, your are not a Christian, and it is not surprising that you are not happy. (p.32)
Our natural inclination may be to try to save ourselves, but it gets extremely tiring, especially when we realize that it is impossible. Having to constantly prove yourself to God, others and yourself is a wearying task that inherently leads to depression when we fail. As Lloyd-Jones says,
What you need is not to make resolutions to live a better life, to start fasting and sweating and praying. No! you just begin to say: 'I rest my faith on Him alone who died for my transgressions to atone.' (p.35)
Here is where I've found true, lasting, life changing joy.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Honey for a Child's Heart

Gladys Hunt's blog specializes in children's literature. I resonate with her viewpoint that 'honey' is a good and necessary thing in a child's life. In her own words, "It means finding sweetness in life, like beauty and goodness that nourishes the inner person." I find her blog very thought provoking as I begin to decide what kind of literature I want to expose my children to. She gives a lot of new ideas and help in deciphering a good book from a mediocre one. One of my favorite posts is How to Know the Best Children's Books.