Sunday, November 25, 2012

You Teach People How To Treat You

Something I always say is, “You teach people how to treat you.” Time and time again this statement proves true… time and time again I remind people of this statement in all sorts of situations. From children to adults… it applies to anyone, everyone, regardless of their age or relationship status.

The people in our lives are treating us the exact way that we have allowed them too… the exact way we have taught them too. We teach them through our actions and our inactions. Our tolerance of behaviors through silence speaks volumes to how much self worth we possess.

The greatest defense system we have, but many of us never use, are communication skills… our words. A small statement such as, “You can’t treat me that way.” Or, “That hurts my feelings.” Or, “Please don’t talk to me like that.” These little words strung together are our way of teaching people how to treat us. Communication is also our greatest teaching tool. I believe in teaching through positive reinforcement. So, reinforce the positive ways people treat you as well. Those words can sound like this, “I like it when you say that.” Or, “It make s me feel loved when you do that.” Or, “Thank you for showing me you care.”

I tell my students that when you allow someone to say mean things to you, or you allow someone to hurt you in any way and you do not speak-up for yourself then you are teaching that person that it is okay to treat you that way. However, if you DO speak-up for yourself then you are teaching that person that it is NOT okay to treat you that way. You are teaching that person that you respect yourself and demand to be treated right. One of the rules in my classroom is actually “Speak up for yourself!”

Our friends, our family, our spouses, our co-workers, and even our children treat us how we have taught them too. It is not like we sat them down and gave them a lesson… or specifically told them how to treat us… or gave them a power point presentation on how to treat us. But, maybe we should.

How are you teaching people to treat you? Are you intentional on teaching them how you want to be treated? Or, are your inactions teaching them the wrong way?

No matter what your answers are to these questions… you are not a victim. You need to own your role in the relationships you are involved in.  I am going to say it again… Our tolerance of behaviors through silence speaks volumes to how much self worth we possess. And you, my friend, are worthy of being treated right! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Desires of the Heart… what we want in a life partner

I am surrounded by women who are divorced, just going through a break-up, or have never found the right person. These are fabulous women who would be a blessing to any man’s life. They certainly are a blessing to my life.

I have been reevaluating and trying to wrap my mind around what these fabulous women are looking for in a man and what my husband offers me that protects our marriage after all these years of hills and valleys. I’ve come up with a list of what they want… what I want… what most of us want in a life partner.

We don’t want someone who is guarded and wrapped in a blanket of protection… but someone who is vulnerable, raw, and open. We want someone who will let us in… even into those places that are dark and wounded. We are wounded too.

We don’t want someone who tries to heal our wounds…. but someone who allows us the space we need to embrace healing… define what healing means for us… change our perspective about the wound. We all need a change.

We don’t want someone to remain the same… but someone willing to change… someone willing to accept the challenge to constantly become a better person. We all need accountability to become a better version of us.

We don’t want someone who becomes what we want them to become… but someone who will become a better person for us. We all want to be the reason they are a better person… each step along their journey a little bit better because we are by their side.

We don’t want someone who will stunt our growth or inhibit our personal journey… but someone who will grow along side us and intertwine their journey with ours. We all have our own journey… separate worlds yet the same.  

We don’t want a passive participant in our world… but someone who will fight for us. We want someone who will do what it takes and stand-up for our love. We all want to know that we are worth fighting for… and worth loving.

We don’t want someone who places conditions on their expression of love… but someone who will love us for who we are… the old us, the current us, and the future us. We all want someone who will love us for the crazy, hot mess we really are… learning to love us and accept us for those things instead of trying to save us from those things.

We don’t want a superhero or someone who will rush in to save the day… we don’t want a savior… but someone who loves the Savior with all of their heart, soul, strength, and mind. We all need the love, peace, courage, and balance that only He can offer.

Certainly this list is by no means exhaustive. There are personal preferences and love languages to consider as well; however, these are the wants and don’t wants that I hear over and over again in the voices of the fabulous women in my life. These are the reasons my marriage has stood the test of time. These are the desires of the heart… the healing heart, the broken heart, the loved heart… the whole heart. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

COMMUNITY… we are meant to be together as one

I just recently had the honor of teaching at Outdoor Education with all of the 6th graders at the school where I teach Art. We headed up to the cool Arizona pines in Prescott for 3 days and 2 nights. It was an unforgettable experience for all who were involved. A blessing for sure! Being there gave me a new perspective and really opened my eyes… reminding me of a lesson I once learned.

Although what happens in Outdoor Education stays in Outdoor Education; I can sum up my experience there with one word… COMMUNITY.

The students who previously isolated themselves and hid behind a mask of loneliness became a part of the community. They bought into what we were offering. Students who weren’t friends prior to the trip can now be found on campus arm in arm as a community. They took what we were giving. Parents I never knew before are now my friends. I wave to them a little more vigorously in the community… and the car line. They cherished what we were creating.

We all shared an adventure… an experience. We were all a part of a community. This adventure and experience solidified our union. We just needed a common ground in which we could build a foundation upon.

After assigning this word COMMUNITY  to my experience… I began to think about that word in depth. What does that mean in my life? How has that meaning changed for me? What does that mean in the lives of others?
For most of my life I really didn’t know what community was, or that I was lacking it, or that I even needed it in my life… that is, until I found it. I didn’t really understand or find community until I was in my late twenties and early thirties. That is a long time to go without feeling as though you belong somewhere… anywhere.

I grew-up 2,500 miles away from my family and we didn’t develop a surrogate family either. There were just the 5 of us…far, far away from a community. I tried to establish community in other areas of my life. But, those all failed because I had nothing to build upon, nobody to show me the way. That is… until I moved to the south. If they do one thing right it is BBQ… oh yeah, and community.  I learned a lot of things about life there. I say all the time that God brought me there to heal me and make me whole.
One area of my life that needed to be healed and made whole was my understanding of community. I was so blessed to have a community of friends in Tennessee embrace and accept me… they made me feel as though I belong. You see, they had all been friends since grade school and high school… they accepted me and invited me to be a part of their already established community. They had such a solid ground in which their  community  was built that they could afford to take in a wretch like me. They taught me so much…I learned the lesson of community from them. And, in turn, I feel obligated to give the gift of community to others… because that’s what you do in a community.

Knowing how important community is in my life leaves me pondering the question… What behaviors manifest when a person doesn’t have a sense of community? I suppose the answer to that question will depend on the person; however, if we reflect on what community provides for people then we can assume what lack of community would result in. Being associated with a community requires responsibility, commitment, and obligation to others … loving one another; as well as, putting others needs before your own. The opposite of that would be selfishness and hate…or loneliness.

These are just a few of the negative aspects that can occur when a person lacks community. I am certain there are many, many more because we were born to be together as one… we were designed that way.

Now, of course, we are speaking of healthy communities here. There are obviously other communities, like gangs, that do not adhere to the typical community rules. These unhealthy communities give a false sense of belonging and encourage negative impacts on society.

As I questioned before, the meaning of community has changed throughout my life. However, the importance of a community and how deep a community runs was never apparent until I had a child. We all need to feel a part of something but a child MUST feel as though they belong in order to have their basic needs met. Certainly this can be accomplished in a small immediate family unit… but, it truly does take a village to raise a child.

I believe it is all of our desires to belong, be unified, be accepted, and be one… we fill that need in a community. Whether it is a community of family, friends, co-workers, classmates, church members, team members, fans, or an online community like facebook; we need to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves.

I am blessed to have you all in my community. We are meant to be together as one… arm in arm.