Thursday, May 29, 2008

P4E.073 Broaden Your Mind

(12th in a series on predator patterning)

Another example of single-minded predator intensity is that I get blinders on. I believe there is only one way to accomplish my obscure goals. I put my nose to the grindstone and throw all my efforts into that one way. I don't ask for help or directions. I don't need "alternatives." I have no need to be "creative." My way is right. Don't try to dissuade me or confuse me with facts.

My wife, Gwen, has said to me many times, "What you are doing is not working. Try something different. Anything!" She might say this to my attempts to interact with our sons, or my attempts to apologize after a disagreement or my attempts to encourage her (something I'm terrible at). She has definitely said it to me with regard to my being self-employed for many years.

I've debriefed with Gwen and asked "What could I or should I have done in that situation? What would have worked?" When she's given me a simple, straight-forward, uncomplicated answer, I've responded, "Really? That wouldn't have worked, would it?" Her "I can't believe you're saying that. Don't even start with me!" look gave me my answer.

So, the next phase in subverting our predator patterning is:
Step 4: Broaden Your Mind! Get Creative! Try Something Different!

I've found myself and others I have observed deeply entrenched in a perception of how things are and how they could or should be. Here's a list of subjects (in no particular order) for your consideration about which to broaden your mind, get creative and try something different:

Wife, women, marriage, children, fatherhood, friends, work, place of residence, money, spiritual leadership, change, materialism, child discipline, politics, the USA, illegal immigrants, homosexuals, the Bible, church, religion, religious denominations, time, social justice, the poor, the environment, arguments, encouragement, apologies, values and ideals, the past, the present, the future, driving, entertainment, television, hobbies, etc.... Get the idea?

Do I really believe that my deeply held convictions on these subjects are right and true? By whose standard? How can I be sure? How important is my individual stance on these subjects? What difference am I making by holding such a stance? Am I damaging relationships with those who are close to me by clinging to my narrow thinking? I'm an architect. Part of my job is to be creative. Yet, I can get so stuck!

Sometimes we need help with Step 4. Here's a quote from Ken Nair, founder of Life Partners, that suggests where we can go to get such help:

"Could God be so uncomplicated as to call the help He has provided for you 'help'?"

"The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone.
I will make a helper suitable for him.' "
Genesis 2:18 (NIV)
Of course, then He created woman/wife.

Your Ally in the Pursuit of Christlikeness, Kim

Monday, May 19, 2008

P4E.072 The Wolf and the Lamb

(11th in a series on predator patterning)

I think it is significant that Scripture characterizes the golden age that the Messiah will usher in as a time when "the wolf will lie down with the lamb." I believe that we are used by God to answer our own prayer of "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."

To be available to Him for His use, I need to bring my predator self to a place where I live in peace and harmony with my prey. I'm also responsible to gain the trust of my prey to the point where my prey will trust me enough to be vulnerable and know that it won't taken advantage of .

Predators are single-minded. They are intense. They know what they want and focus all their attention on it.

For me, it has looked like this:

1. I have highly valued, well thought-out opinions (political, religious, moral, child rearing principles, time and money management, music, etc.) and have no problem expressing them. My wife and children are the first to know what these are. I will not tolerate contrary opinions. I will argue like a lawyer to defend my position. (If it ain't country, it ain't music. I'd rather push my Ford than drive a Chevy, you know?)

2. I watch like a hawk (predator) to make sure that these principles are lived out in other's (mostly wife's and children's) lives. When they aren't, I perceive it as weakness. I pounce, like a lion (predator), on other's mistakes, point them out and demand that they are corrected.

3. Physically, the hair might go up on the nape of my neck, I throw my chest out, shoulders back, I jut my chin, lean forward, squint (or explode) my eyes, frown, raise my voice. In other words, I get "big" (which is no small feat for me).

4. When someone is about to do something I disapprove of, I am able to transmit my disapproval by a "look" or a sound. I can transmit my intensity to the unlucky prey from across the room.

So, with that in mind, the next step in overturning my predator patterning is

Step 3: Don't be so Intense!

This is intertwined with Step 1: Purpose to let others go first, because to become less intense I have to give up my opinions, quit focusing on the weaknesses of others to exploit them and suppress the physical attributes of a predator.

I think we've all experienced when someone wants their way and tries all sorts of methods to make it happen. The intensity that those persons use to achieve their demands is what I'm talking about. As usual, it's easy to see it in others but more difficult to identify in ourselves. God help us...

Peace, Kim

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

P4E.071 Oh, the Humanity!

(I'm going to take a break from the predator/prey series to comment on current events.)

On May 6, 1937 the enormous German zeppelin, Hindenburg, exploded as it landed at New Jersey. As he watched the disaster unfold before his eyes, reporter Herbert Morrison spontaneously burst into tears and cried "Oh, the humanity!"

I've been experiencing the same feelings as I've seen and heard about the natural disasters in Myanmar, Chile, the American midwest and China. 46 people died in the Hindenburg disaster. Literally tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of people have lost their lives to these natural disasters over the last couple of weeks. Oh, the humanity!

Some of us may feel a bit helpless in the face of such disaster. I know I have in the past. Yes, we can donate some money to aid relief to the affected areas. Some more action oriented among us are actually prepared to physically go to the points of disaster. But, for most of us these disasters form a backdrop as we carry on with our normal, everyday lives. We should really be disturbed.

"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced."
―Obi-Wan Kenobi, referring to the destruction of Alderaan

I'm thinking, what if I were one of the "lucky" ones who survived a natural disaster? Stripped of everything. Right down to my flesh and bones. What's left? Even my body will someday die. What I'm learning is that my spirit is eternal. My spirit is what is of real consequence. I can affect my own spirit and the spirits of others.

When I see these disasters happen now, yes I say, "There but for the grace of God go I," but it also motivates me to do what I can to positively affect the lives of others in my own sphere of influence. I am not helpless there.

Am I making the ground shake by my temper? Am I a great wind that wreaks havoc all around me by my presence and personality? Do people feel like they're drowning in great waves of anxiety when I'm around? Do I bring a cloud of confusion like a volcano spews ash into the air? Do people feel fear, helplessness and hurt when I'm around, or do I bring peace, clarity and healing wherever I go? I have been known to do the former. I'm working on doing more of the latter.

Peace, Kim

Thursday, May 8, 2008

P4E.070 Slow Down!

(10th in a series on predator patterning)

Predators act instinctively. They count on their nature to move quickly. Thinking slows them down. The scenarios that I described of how to put others first, especially when I must sacrifice to do so, in the last post were predicated on being in a hurry, running late and acting on instinct. When we are in a hurry, we act like predators towards others whom we perceive to be slowing us down. So, to counterbalance my predator patterning, I need to:

Step 2: Slow Down!

The old adage is "Time is money." As Believers we need to challenge the old adages. Are our values worldly or godly? I know the analogy breaks down somewhere, but:

If we are to be like Christ
and Christ is God
and God is infinite
and therefore time is inconsequential to Him
what value should we give to time?

I know I need to be careful here. For some of us, our wives believe that we are too slow. Some of us are procrastinators and are slow to make decisions or outright indecisive. This causes "crises" to "erupt" at a later time, which then must be addressed in haste. So, some of us actually need to hurry up so that we can slow down.

Which brings me to strategies for implementing Step 2: Slow Down!

1st strategy: Remove the causes of being in a hurry. This means planning. This means staying on top of necessary commitments so that they don't pile up. This means leaving earlier to arrive on time. This means stopping procrastination. This means work.

2nd strategy: Attitude adjustment. We need to stop deluding ourselves into thinking that because we're good Christian people that nothing is going to go wrong! We don't deserve, nor should we expect, trouble free lives. I'm sorry to use the hackneyed phrase "paradigm shift," but that is what we're talking about here. A shift in the way we view time. A shift in the way we react to circumstances. This is an exercise in patience (a fruit of the spirit).

Two places where I know I have to slow down are with my words and with my anger (impatience). To my shame, I would pounce (another predator term) on my wife's and my children's mistakes. I would correct something my wife would say in public, in front of others, causing her great embarrassment. I would become angry and impatient with my children if they were not ready to leave for church (or any other function) on time. What irony!! What hypocrisy!!

"A quick-tempered man acts foolishly..."

"He who is slow to anger has great understanding, But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly."

"But, let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God."

When I slow down, I have time to think. I gain wisdom and understanding. I'm less likely to become angry. I stop acting predatory. I avoid being a fool.

Your Ally in the Pursuit of Christlikeness, Kim