Archives for posts with tag: relationships

I have become increasingly concerned over the “Us vs. Them” attitude that I see and hear regularly. Too many groups and individuals operate on the basis that anything different is bad. “We” must oppose “them.”  More than that, we see “them” as the enemies of “us” that must be stopped or destroyed.

I understand that there are people who espouse harmful philosophies and I know that all ideas are not for the benefit of the larger community. However, I find it impossible to believe that “we” are always right and “they” are always wrong. Whoever the “we” or “they” are.

There are many people who subscribe to the “Us vs. Them” approach to all matters. I am not one of them.

Some folks see anyone whose culture or language as different and probably dangerous. I am not one of them.

Many people believe that everybody is out for themselves. Wanting something for nothing. I am not one of them

Many politicians and John/Jane Does propose that Red/Blue States have the right perspective on all political issues and the other will lead the country to ruin. I am not one of them.

The attitude of a lot of people is that if your skin color is different from mine, I have to keep an eye on you. I am not one of them.

According to conversations I hear and read from individuals in leadership as well as common ordinary citizens, it seems that it is alright to use demeaning terminology and derogatory words to describe others. I am not one of them.

It is common for people to assert that anyone who holds a different position on religion, politics, social issues or virtually anything is your enemy. I am not one of them.

Us vs. Them

Sports fans often depict fans of an opposing team as bad people to be avoided. I am not one of them.

Someone always wins and someone always loses. That is the attitude that I sense in many people. I am not one of them.

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I know people who always see change as bad. It is better to keep things the way they are. I am not one of them.

There are Christians who believe that they alone interpret the Scriptures correctly and know the mind of God  I am not one of them

Jeff Chandler, writing about working relationships says, “On the surface, we discuss compassion, empathy, and understanding but down at a personal level, there are grudges, alliances, and interactions that are the complete opposite. There is a growing contingency of US vs THEM which doesn’t seem like a good way (to work together).”

“Unless we are very, very careful,” wrote psychologist-turned-artist Anne Truitt, “we doom each other by holding onto images of one another based on preconceptions that are in turn based on indifference to what is other than ourselves.”

Loving and gracious God, help us to see our fellow human beings as brothers and sisters and treat everyone with respect. Enable us to understand that “we” might be wrong and “they” might be right on some things. Help us to work side by side with each other to  “guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.” So that others “may know we are Christians by our love.”

Jamie Jenkins

Love Is A Game That Two Can Play And Both WinWinston Churchill and I have something in common. We both believe that our most brilliant achievement was our ability to persuade our wives to marry us. There is nothing else that I have ever done that comes close to it.

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After forty-eight years of marriage to the same woman I can attest to the inestimable value of a life partner who loves you and supports you through good times and bad times. One who lives out the vows to love, honor and cherish. For better or worse. Richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. I also understand that having a good marriage requires a lot of patience and effort on the part of both persons.

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Recently I saw a billboard that offered to help folks who wanted to “Undo the I Do.” There is no question that marriages can grow stagnant. Relationships can become strained. One or both parties may stray from their marital vows. With our human frailties and limitations, divorce sometimes may be the best alternative.

Every marriage has its ups and downs. Marriages that seem to be “made in heaven” often have to “live through hell” before they survive. Yet, in spite of everything, sometimes divorce might be the best choice. Marriage litigation experts can be helpful but I hope that everyone will try to “re-do” the “I do” before coming to the decision to make the marriage null and void.

Falling In Love

Mignon McLaughlin suggests that “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”  Falling in love may be easy but staying in love is an ongoing exercise.

Marriage therapy, communication, relationship advice:

There are many keys to a successful marriage. “Marriage, in its truest sense, is a partnership of equals, with neither exercising dominion over the other, but, rather, with each encouraging and assisting the other in whatever responsibilities and aspirations he or she might have” (Gordon B. Hinckley).

Sometimes maintaining marriage vows is depicted as a burden and a duty. Although it is a responsibility to be taken seriously, I do not see it as bondage. Instead I believe it is a privilege that provides rich rewards.

Happiness in marriage is doing little things for each other repeatedly. Common courtesies and kind deeds that are present before marriage continue in daily life. It has been said (humorously I hope) that when a man opens the car door for his wife it is either a new car or a new wife. While I understand that customs have changed and women certainly are not “the weaker sex,” little gestures of courtesy are still important in a marriage relationship. Each “serves” the other with gratitude. These “little” acts of affection make up the hundreds of tiny threads that bind marriage partners to each other.

The illusion that everything will just turn out magically without having to communicate thoughts, feelings, and needs in a relationship is an immaturity that will make true connection impossible.:

Another key to a healthy and happy marriage is the recognition that each person in the relationship is unique and it is not necessary that both persons thinks alike and share all the same interests and skills. Ogden Nash said, “Marriage is the alliance of two people, one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other who never forgets them.” That is to say it is a good thing when each one brings something different to the relationship and those differences are seen as complementary rather than competitive.

I am no expert on marriage and I have made many mistakes in my relationship with my wife. I am extremely grateful for God’s grace that has been extended to us as we have worked together to make our marriage as healthy and happy as possible. I realize what Franz Schubert said is true. “Happy is the man who finds a true friend, and far happier is he who finds that true friend in his wife.

Jamie Jenkins

I have often said that if two people always agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary. That is not to suggest that any person is expendable but simply a way to express the fact that all people do not or should not think alike. No one has all the right answers.

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It is not a bad thing for people to hold different opinions. In fact, differing perspectives are healthy and helpful. Unfortunately that is not always understood and appreciated. Persons with different opinions are often ridiculed and disrespected. Expressions of disagreement are sometimes unkind and damaging.

In our current environment, civil and respectful discourse are often lacking when significant issues are the topics. Hurtful and disparaging words are frequently heard in public discourse. It seems that we are yelling at each other more than talking with one another.

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John Wesley suggested a better way than argument and debate to approach issues on which we differ. He believed if people would confer with one another they would make better choices and come to reasonable conclusions. Thus he admonished the early Methodists to engage in Christian Conferencing. Wesley expected Christian conference to shape people’s lives.

Christian conferencing is sometimes called “holy conferencing.” Steve Manskar says, “The phrase is typically employed ‘to encourage people to have polite conversation with each other, particularly around issues where people are going to disagree’.”

United Methodist Bishop Sally Dyck said that “holy conferencing is not limited to a specific topic or a specific venue for decision-making. It is also not a strategy to shut down conversation or stifle impassioned speech. It is a means for staying connected to each other in spite of our differences.” In a study guide she wrote to assist churches and groups she offered eight principles for constructive dialogue. I share them with you as a better way of dealing with difficult issues as well as daily affairs.

  1. Every person is a child of God. Throughout the scriptures, we are reminded that to love God is to love our neighbor. “If anyone boasts ‘I love God’ and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both” (1 John 4:20-21, The Message).

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  1. Listen before speaking. This means that you suspend judgment about the other. Welcome with open arms others who don’t see things the way you do. Do not focus on convincing others that you are right. Instead, listen to others so that you can understand better why they hold their opinions.
  1. Strive to understand from another’s point of view. Bishop James S. Thomas said that the truth was clear to him when he was thinking his own thoughts by himself. It was when he was in the presence of others that it all got confused! In other words, he had to confer with others to see more sides or angles or perspectives on whatever the matter was at hand.
  1. Strive to reflect accurately the views of others. To strive to express accurately others’ views is a matter of honesty, not to mention integrity. If we skew, or cast the worst light on another’s viewpoint, and give it a spin that is not accurate, then we are being dishonest.
  1. Disagree without being disagreeable. “Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say.”  (Eph. 4:29 CEB)

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  1. Speak about issues; do not defame people. Calling people names defames them and is inflammatory. The simple moral fact is that words kill. Words that defame kill both the spirit and the reputation of others.
  1. Pray, in silence or aloud, before decisions. “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). Praying for those who disagree with us is hard to do because it challenges our prejudices, anger, and malice.
  1. Let prayer interrupt your busy-ness. Praying in the midst of our disagreement might actually bring out the best in us and for the common good! It’s always appropriate to call for prayer and also to be in an attitude of prayer in the midst of discussion about weighty, divisive, and important conversations.

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Bishop Dyck concludes her study guide by saying, “In order to confer with others who disagree with us, we need to practice our faith in ways that challenge us spiritually as well as relationally. To love God and our neighbor requires nothing less.“

Jamie Jenkins