Friday, 26 August 2011

What You See is What You Get

Flip Wilson as Geraldine
For those of you old enough to remember there was a song entitled “You Always Hurt the One You Love”. Assuming there is some truth in that lyric, why would we do that? Another cliché from the dark ages goes something like this “Familiarity breeds contempt”. This last saying has its origin in one of Aesop’s Fables. “The lesson is that the fear of something, or the fascination and awe of something or someone, is reduced through getting to know it better. Matthew 13:57: “But Jesus said unto them, ‘a prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house.’” Thus suggesting that the better we know someone the less impressed we are by them.

The scary conclusion to all this appears to be that the better we know someone the more “real” we tend to be. There is little or no pretense, unlike the dating years. WYSIWYG (wiz –ee- wig) or What you see is what you get was originally a catchphrase popularized by Flip Wilson's drag persona "Geraldine" (from Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In in the late 1960s and then on The Flip Wilson Show until 1974). In character, Wilson would say "What you see is what you get" to excuse her quirky behavior.

Once we are married we tend to let our guard down, and with passing time the person we really are begins to emerge. So is there any good news in this not so surprising revelation?

Tool for Sanctification
There is great news if we accept as fact that God will use our spouse as one of His most effective tools for our sanctification. God has already seen all of our blemishes and flaws and He wants us to deal with them. What better way than to put someone in our lives that will not only see our shortcomings but may in fact bring them out into the light of day?

For what purpose – so we can feel badly about ourselves? No, so we can repent and seek God’s help to overcome our sinfulness. Here is where it gets a little touchy. We need to give our spouse permission to give us “constructive feedback”. We need to agree to at least reflect on what we are told without losing our cool. Our spouse in turn must understand that nagging is not a spiritual gift. They must understand that their role is to help you become more like Christ. One clue as to whether or not their input is self-serving or legitimate – can they cite a Scripture verse to support their contention? A second clue – is the feedback given in a loving way, such that you really want to hear what is being said or is there a hidden agenda, an ulterior motive in their counsel?

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Stop, Stop - think

When was the last time you thought about something that was negative, not just once but over and over again? As you continued to ruminate over the matter did it get better?

As a general rule, I find that when I re-play a negative event, a disparaging comment, or an embarrassing moment over and over in my mind it always ends the same way. In fact, as my mind heads down the same negative path I already know exactly where it is going to wind up. I will feel hurt, guilty, disappointed, angry or frustrated. I liken the negative thought to a physical location. When I put an address of a location in my GPS it takes me to the exact location every time. When I begin to have a particular negative thought it too takes me to the same location in my mind every time.

One technique that is used for people who suffer from depression is called the STOP technique. It is based on the principle that when we ruminate on a negative event or consequence it will drag us deeper into our depression. The antidote is to STOP your mind from traveling down a well worn path that leads to discouragement and bad feelings.

So the next time your mind begins to head down one of the all too often traveled paths of negativity say out loud, “STOP, STOP,” and immediately begin to think of something else. Bible verses work great. “My God will supply all my needs.” Or, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Light and dark cannot occupy the same space. As you fill your mind with the light that emanates from God your dark thought will dissipate.

As it pertains specifically to marriage, sometimes we dwell on something our partner may have said that hurt our feelings, or we begin to think about our unmet expectations, or we see another couple who “appears” so much happier than you and your spouse, etc. Your mind takes you down a vortex of negativity that will only end up in the same negative place, yielding the same negative feelings.

The next time this happens yell “STOP, STOP,” and repeat to yourself a favorite Bible verse that has brought you comfort in the past. Begin to meditate on the verse and you will find relief. That said, you may not want to yell “STOP” out loud in a library, in the middle of dinner at a five star restaurant, or while driving in traffic with your husband. A whisper can work just as well.