Reality Reflection: I Need, You Need, We All Need

This month we’ve been talking about relationships and something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is the topic of needs. We all have needs, some of us meet them pretty well while others aren’t as good at realizing, communicating, or acting on those needs. My partner recently said that he wished he could do more to meet my needs and I said that he does meet my needs, I just may not need him in the same way he’s been needed in past relationships. It’s an important fact to remember because while we all have the same basic needs (food, shelter, love), how we meet those needs and the levels of those needs are different for all of us, not to mention the other needs (and passions and interests) we have individually.

But going back to the topic of relationships, when you choose to enter a relationship you go in with the intention of bringing something to that relationship and hoping to get something out as well. So while the word “need” doesn’t have to be the one that’s applied here, because you may already have food, shelter and love, there’s still something missing in your life that you think you can gain by entering into that relationship.

I don’t think ‘needs’ is a dirty word, unless you’re content to have serious needs and not do something about them (dumping them on someone else isn’t “doing something about them”).  It’s perfectly normal to have them, and also perfectly normal to ask for help with them. I’m not a believer in knowing and being everything to everyone. I don’t have to be able to fix a pipe or rewire a house or fix a broken bone, there are other people who are very good at those things and actually enjoy them.

I think it’s time we stop seeing our needs as an embarrassment or something we should hide. I think it’s time we step up and ask for the help we need, ask for the direction we need and ask for the support we need, and above all do something about the needs we have. Yes, sometimes you’ll have others turn you down, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how many people are willing to step up for you, especially if they know you’ll step up for them in their time of need.

Trust and Fears

This month in our talks about fears an important topic to address is that of trust. Our fears tell us that we can’t trust people or things, and some of our experiences or the experiences we hear about do back up that distrust. So how do we build trust when dealing with our inevitable fears?

Often all we need is one person we can trust in order to start trusting ourselves and others.  A good place to start is with God. Throughout the Bible, the lives of countless Saints and my life as well are reminders that God can be trusted and that He will always come through for us.  Maybe it won’t be in the way or timeline we think it should be, but He will follow through and will do all that He promised. Through our daily interactions with God little by little He reveals that we can trust Him and that He won’t let us down.

God gives us experiences that teach us that we are capable humans and we can trust ourselves in the face of many different types of challenges and obstacles, and that we can still trust ourselves even when our fears come to fruition. He builds our trust in Him and our trust in ourselves so we can keep going in the face of life’s uncertainties.

Our experiences with God and trust show us that fear and trust aren’t about knowing everything or having all the answers.  Sometimes our fears will come to pass and sometimes our trust will be rewarded.  But much of life and faith are about going forward without knowing all the answers and hoping, believing and trusting that it will all work out.

So if you’re dreading the week ahead because it’s Monday, because there are so many unknowns or because of what happened in the past week and the trust that was broken or you broke, spend some extra prayer and devotion time today reminding yourself that God trusts you and you can trust God to help you work everything out.

“Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” Isaiah 26:4

Secrets and Sharing

This week I’ve been thinking about how well we know people.  Some of us are really secretive and don’t like to share anything, others of us seem to share our whole lives with the world.  But with the media today how much of what we see is real and how much is marketing, right?  Sometimes we’ll think we know someone really well only to find out we really don’t know them at all!  And other times we know people so well we can predict their words and actions.

It can be really intimidating to us when people know us.  Why? Because when they know us that well they can call us out on our BS and procrastination and bad habits.  It’s not fun to be called out on that stuff, even if it is necessary sometimes.  So because we fear being called out some of us try to stay away from others as much as possible or build fake relationships.  I call them fake not because the people aren’t real, but because you’re not being real with the people.

However, one of the best decisions you can make, one that’s ultimately essential to your health and sanity, is to have at least one person you can be completely honest and open with, without fear of judgement.  Personally, I believe that honesty is one of the best policies.  If we’re not honest with the people in our lives, soon we won’t be honest with ourselves.

Each day we’ve got a choice whether we’re going to open up to the people in our lives or if we’re going to hide who we are and how unique, special and interesting we are.  Don’t be afraid of your quirks or getting close, instead learn how to make the most of the time you have with the people you love.

“I don’t have any fear of intimacy, but rather thrive on it, which is rare in a public person.” Jack Nicholson

The Victory in Vulnerability

Today’s topic is a doozy: vulnerability.  It’s not a topic people like to talk about because we don’t like to admit that we’re not perfect.  We don’t like others knowing that we’re not the rock star they think we are all the time.  No, we’re less-than-perfect.  But the good news is that that’s OK.

As much as you may think the secret to success is being right all the time, it’s just as often, if not more often, about being wrong.  But, not just about being wrong, but about your ability to transform the wrong into something very right.  This ability not only makes you stand out as someone who is a leader, it also gives you unlimited power and potential. When you’re able to see beyond the mistake you’ve made to what can be done with what you’ve learned you’ve freed yourself from being someone who just makes mistakes to someone who transforms.

We don’t really have a choice in whether or not we have vulnerabilities, each of us do.  But when we choose to show them to other people it gives us first and foremost a connection with them.  When they see that we’re not perfect, they feel more comfortable with being honest with us about the struggles they’re dealing with.  Think about your relationships.  When you’re acting like you’re always right and always capable and don’t admit any weaknesses to your partner very often your partner tends to resent you for having it all together.  But by being honest with your partner about the things you do struggle with it’s easier to work together to fix the issues and support each other through your personal struggles.

Today I encourage you to reveal even a little glimpse of your vulnerabilities and weaknesses to someone important to you.  Let them know that you’re human and that their support and encouragement matters to you.

“In reality, vulnerability is a strength. All great leaders have vulnerability. So, in order to help you grow into a more powerful and courageous leader, I want you to be vulnerable.”  Darren Hardy

Prepared to Trust

This month we’ve been talking about being prepared.  There’s only so prepared we can be, we can’t predict what other people will do, how the weather will change or our health.  Yes, we can be prepared for possibilities, but other than death, change and taxes, there aren’t too many guarantees in our human existence.  But as people of faith there’s another aspect of this all, the spiritual side, the parts of us and our world that connect with God.

When it comes to the topic of being prepared and God, God does put people and situations in our lives to help prepare us for things He knows we’ll face later in life.  But He also asks us to trust Him, that He has our best interests at heart, with plans to protect us, not harm us.  He asks for our trust because He knows that no matter what happens He will be there for us, and throughout the Bible He’s made promises along those lines, even as early as Abraham and Noah.  Those promises continued with the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus.

When we have a strong relationship with Jesus we’re able to trust that Jesus will be there for us.  When we’re Sunday or Christmas-and-Easter Christians we may not have the foundation of relationship and trust with Jesus to know that beyond a shadow of a doubt we are His and He cares for us.  This week I encourage you to take time to make sure your relationship with God is built on an unshakeable foundation, one that you spend time together each day, one that you rely on His strength and power in times of challenge, and one that helps build you into the person God created you to be a little each day.

“Come before Him with your trust in His promises…with your feet standing on the truth of His Word…and with your heart filled with the power of His Spirit.” Roy Lessin

Lessons from 2014

We’ve reached the end of another year. Today’s the last day of 2015. I can’t believe it’s already been 365 days since we started this year and now we’re just about to step into a new one. It’s scary and exhilarating all in one. I wanted to finish the year today with where I started the year, Galatians 5:22-23:

“The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

This year we’ve looked at these fruit and forgiveness, compassion, and thankfulness as well. I’ve learned a lot this year, and if you’re on my newsletters you read a couple things I learned already. But the lesson I wanted to share with you today was one of faith and trust. I have a long way to go on both of those things, probably a lifetime, but this year I learned that I should trust myself, that I should believe in myself, and how important it is to surround yourself with people you believe in and trust.

We’ve seen a lot of upheaval and unrest around the world from missing or downed airliners to people rioting and fighting, the world is an unsettled and confusing place and it’s hard to find the line between right and wrong sometimes. But Galatians 5 reminds us of 9 things that are right and will always be right. Love is always the answer. Peace is beyond all our understanding. Kindness can do what words can’t. Self-control can transform the world. Joy is such a treasure. And there isn’t a price you can put on forgiveness.

It’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not, but we can look to these foundational principles and find some guidance to how we should live our lives. 2015 will bring some new things, shake up some old and reinforce others. What has 2014 been for you and what will 2015 be for you, what will you make of it?

Choosing to Start Fresh

Sometimes the best thing you can do is make a big change.  Athletes are usually forced into that change as they get to be too old to take the wear and tear on their bodies.  The rest of us aren’t forced to change our lives half way through, but we do have the choice.  In some ways its good that they get forced to change, and in some ways it would be good if we all had to go through that experience.

When athletes finish the field part of their life journey we don’t always hear about them again, unless there’s a tragedy or they did something stupid or they find another way to stay in the limelight like coaching or buying a team, and occasionally they choose to do remarkable things with their lives after sports. Otherwise they join the rest of us who live much quieter lives.

But the rest of us have been dealing with some changes too.  We don’t typically go to one company as a fresh high school or college grad and stay there until we retire anymore.  No, we usually bounce around as the economy and the business changes.  Few of us escaped the major changes in the economy over the past decade or so.  Many lost money and many lost jobs.  Some of us cheered because we were finally free of the job we hated even if it was scary to be without a job.

I think it’s a good thing that we’re now required almost to deal with change on a more regular basis.  It makes us learn how to rely on and work together with each other more.  It’s almost forcing us to learn how.  And while it’s not comfortable to be forced into things this is actually a good thing for most of us, at least it is as long as we approach it right.

If you’re facing a big change, a challenge, a turning point in your life I know it can be scary.  It’s OK to be scared occasionally.  But we have to choose if we’re going to be too scared to try something new, too scared to take the big and bold step or too scared to trust that God really knows what He’s doing and will guide us through it.  Only when you don’t make that bold step or choose the can-do attitude will you continue to suffer through the change.

I went from an old man in baseball to a young man in life. And I liked how that sounded. So, I consider myself young again.” Derek Jeter