Monday, October 29, 2007

P4E.046 The Nature of My Game

"Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what's puzzling you
Is the nature of my game"

Sympathy for the Devil
Rolling Stones

I have no end to the ways that I can offend people...To those who endeavored to console me at a low time, I can only say that it was not your heart that was in a bad place. It was mine! That said, if my transparency about my marriage causes you to go to self-examination about your heart and your relationship, so much the better!

It is very common for my flesh to desire to be consoled and comforted. My flesh avoids hard work and pain. My flesh would rather maintain the status quo, stay detached and develop callouses that numb my spirit to the pain that I'm causing others and myself. If my flesh can make an excuse for my actions, can minimize the consequences of my actions, it will attempt to do so. Sometimes suggestions by others, who naturally want to think the best, who want not to judge (lest they be judged), who (with a pure heart) want to represent grace and forgiveness, can help my flesh along in its attempts.

I'd like to move along, quit playing games and get to the heart of this thing. Many of us men need a kick in the pants in this area. Call it "accountability" if you will...

I think many wives would respond the way that my wife did. I think this speaks to the track record that we husbands have with our wives. TRUST is a huge issue with most wives. WHY? Because they've seen us around other women. They've seen our eyes wander. They've seen us flirt. Some wives have figured out that their husbands are looking at porn on the Internet. Some husbands have actually, physically been unfaithful in their marriages. Whatever it is, they have their reasons for not TRUSTING us.

So how do I respond? I have to examine myself. Am I attracted to women other than my wife? What do I do with that? Do I flirt? Do my eyes wander? Am I "unfaithful in my heart?" With my wife, I found that the more defensive I got, the more suspicious she got (with good reason).

Many of us view our wives in an adversarial way...she's the "enemy." This is really, really common for husbands to do. In fact, it's the hardest thing for most husbands to change...their perception of their wife as "enemy."

So, when our wives "hit" us with a million questions and "accuse" us of cheating do we think they're doing that because they hate us and wish us dead? I think what's closer to the truth is that they love us and don't want to lose us. When we are inappropriate around other women, because of our track record, our wives may not (should not) TRUST us. They probably feel threatened, at-risk, overlooked, de-valued, unwanted, even betrayed. This may inappropriately come out as jealousy and possessiveness. Jesus did not lead His church to jealousy and possessiveness. Neither should we lead our wives there.

If we were able to change our perception of our wives from "enemy" to "help" we might find that they're actually right about how we are around other women. Figuring that out, we could, with her "help", acknowledge the sin in our lives and change the way we think, act and talk around other women, changing our track record, letting her know how much we really care for her and gaining her TRUST. That way, we wouldn't have to be defensive and we could live in peace and in love with her and ourselves and GOD...

Your ally in the pursuit of Christlikeness, Kim

Thursday, October 18, 2007

P4E.045 Sympathy for the Devil

"So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I'll lay your soul to waste"

Rolling Stones

Confession engenders sympathy. After my last post (which I send out as an e-mail to many), I got several sympathetic responses:

Empathy for my situation:
"Believe me, I understand what you are saying. If I were to go home and apologize to my wife for going to lunch with a female co-worker, she would say it is my guilty conscience talking and then accuse me of cheating. She then would hit me with a million questions about the situation in an attempt to prove (to herself) that I'm lying. I have lived this way for most of my married life."

Minimizing the offense:
"I don't see that one time as a big deal, though I know that one thing can lead to another."

Lamenting the expectations for men:
"It sucks that we as men have to think more about certain situations (i.e. you going out with your co-worker for a bite) but that's what we're called to do I guess, especially in a married situation."

It's an interesting phenomenon. Have you experienced it? While I appreciate the care that each one expresses in their sympathy, I have to wonder at my own response to it. My flesh desires to be consoled, to have my offense minimized, to have the pain removed. But, my spirit is concerned about how the offended (my wife, my co-worker, the LORD) would perceive the consolation and my acceptance of it. In my spirit I know that as I allow the sympathy in, it hinders my learning from my own offense.

Sometimes we rush to console, empathize, sympathize and minimize an offense, to try to assuage the resulting pain, when in reality the offender may benefit from, learn from, the offense and the resulting pain.

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
C.S. Lewis

Any thoughts?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

P4E.044 2 Steps Back

I've told you before that this blog is not about me having arrived and telling you how it should be. They are at least part confessional. For all of my high-falutin', philosophical writing, I can really blow it when the rubber meets the road, in the "real world." Sometimes the process of becoming Christlike seems like 1 step forward and 2 steps back. I took about 10 steps back last week. Here's how it happened:

A single, female, co-worker asked me for help because her car was in the shop. She said she would pay for my lunch if I would take her to get hers. So, we went to a sandwich shop together and had lunch. This was a profound lapse in my judgement. I potentially could have compromised her reputation, my reputation and most of all, Christ's reputation. I did not adequately consider my wife's opinion and feelings about the situation. I did not consider the past track record I have with my wife and that I do not (and might never) have her complete trust. Sure, I know that my intentions and her intentions were innocent, but the appearance of it could be misinterpreted. I did not consider my position as a married man and role-model/counsellor to many and how it could be damaged by the appearance of going to lunch with an single, female co-worker. And, it must be true that every extra-marital affair starts with a "first step." The fact is, I rushed to be "helpful" and to look like a "good guy," when in reality I could have figured out a bunch of ways to help which would leave intact my wife's feelings, my co-worker's reputation, my reputation and Christ's reputation.

I have heard the stories about how Billy Graham would never even be alone in an elevator with a woman, to keep his reputation (and Christ's) unvarnished. He would not close the door to his office if there was a woman inside. I guess I've never considered myself in Billy Graham's league, but I am married and I am a role-model/counsellor to others. Thinking about it now, I would never counsel another husband that it would be a good idea to go to lunch alone with a female co-worker.

So, it's 2 (10?) steps back....I've apologized to my wife and asked for her forgiveness, which she's given. But the new track record I was trying to create has been de-railed and it's going to take some time to get it re-aligned and re-connected. Some "mistakes" (this one in judgement) have greater consequences than others. Hope we can all learn by my mistakes. I'm sure that there's more to this story than I have talked about here. I'm not trying to trivialize it by being brief. More to follow...

Peace, Kim

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

P4E.043 Unpacking 3

Grace is just one of the attributes of God that I strive to imitate. There's also patience, non-judgement, forgiveness, strength and peace just to name a few. I know in the past I have encouraged people to "go to church" in the hopes that they might meet God there. Some churches even advertise that they are a place where people can "meet God."

The big flaw in the idea of sending people off to church to meet God is that it let's me off the hook. I have to ask myself these questions: "Why would I send anyone somewhere else to meet God? Isn't the idea that I'm supposed to represent Him by being Christlike myself? To be His ambassador? To be a light on a hill, drawing people to Him? Isn't that exactly the model of God made man in Christ? (No, I'm not implying that I become God, only Christ-like!) The difference between Christ and me is that I'm imperfect. Striving, but imperfect. But, that's the hope that someone like me can give to others. That one doesn't have to be perfect to approach God (impossible anyway). Can I represent Him well and not be perfect? I say yes...

I have to face the fact that the reason I would tell people to go to church to meet God is that I'm not willing to do the WORK required to represent Him well. What work? Well, it's partially just manifesting those attributes which I find it so hard to imitate....patience, non-judgement, forgiveness, strength, peace, get the idea...

Your Ally in the Pursuit of Christlikeness, Kim

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

P4E.042 Unpacking 2

I've wondered what the "treasures in heaven" that Jesus spoke of in the Book of Matthew were. It seems clear that He was contrasting them to "earthly" treasures, that is, MONEY (and all that money brings).

Heavenly treasures are SPIRITUAL treasures. I struggle to hold "spiritual treasures" in high regard because my values are largely material (money based) ones.

Scripture defines the "fruit" of the spirit to be "love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control." Whenever I can think, act or speak in such a way that demonstrates these emotions or elicits these emotions in others, I believe that I am storing up treasures in heaven. That is, God, being Spirit, sees/feels my heart and interprets my thoughts, actions and speech as worshipping Him in the spirit. That is my treasure in heaven.

Peace, Kim