The best place from which to lead is behind the people you’re leading.
If you’re behind your people, they’re a part of the vision you’re leading them to.
If you’re behind your people, they’re advancing intrinsically.
If you’re behind your people, it feels more like love than leadership.
The alternative is to be out in front, with only your plan and it’s details in front of you. All you have to do is find the right levers to pull to get people moving in the direction you need them to go. Keep pulling and one of them might work (a little).
If you’re out in front leading and one (or more) of your people catches up (or passes you), you’re no longer the leader.
You don’t have to know it all, be able to do it all, or even be ahead of where your people are going.
See the bigger picture, and help your people become a part of it. Then you’ll be in a good position; you’ll be behind your people, leading them.
Space and time are astronomically (pun intended) interesting to me. Combined with my love for photography you can imagine how intrigued I was to see the recent black hole image that was captured.
This TED Talk explains how the image was captured, and includes some animations about how, theoretically, black holes are created.
The thing that I found most interesting was the concept of “the point of singularity.” Basically, it states that black holes are actually cone-shaped, and like all cones they merge down into a single point. At its widest point the black hole they imaged would fit 6.5 billion of our suns, and the point of singularity is only two-dimensional. Smaller than, say, your finger nail.
I always thought black holes obliterated anything that entered them, thanks to the old “asteroids” arcade game. While that is probably true, in a black hole objects are simply subjected to infinite levels of gravity (not even light can escape which is why they are black). So, for example, if earth entered a black hole like this it would be condensed down to a size smaller than a bouncy ball but it would have the same mass as it currently does.
While I was thinking about all these incredible things, I thought about the similarity between black holes and influential ideas.
Inluential ideas are cone-shaped. At their widest part of the cone an idea attracts large masses to it. People stand in awe of its power. Some spend most of their working life trying to study or understand it. But the truth is that influential ideas also originate from a point of singularity. A point so small; a thought so brief you almost don’t recognize it.
You might not even consider the glimpse of an idea worth pursuing.
But what if you pursued it? What if you went for it?
I find it hard to write about things that I think everybody understands. I always try to come at things from a new perspective and look at them in a way that I find encouraging. Typically, I will weigh my own experience with a topic and think about what it means to me, for example, to have self control. I was struggling to find a way to make this post about self control encouraging until I looked back at the definition. Doing this isn't always fruitful, but every once in a while there is a word or phrase in the definition of a word that makes that word take on new life in my own mind.
When I looked back at what it meant to have self control, or be self-controlled the phrase "self mastery" was included. The word mastery changed my entire thought process about self control. The word mastery connects with me in an encouraging way, much more than the word control does. While they are both a part of the definition in this case I think of them very differently.
Control has a lot of negative connotations for me, like if everything is not under my control then something must be wrong, and probably with me as a person. So I thought that self control was something I either had or didn't have, and when I didn't have control the way I should, I "knew" I was deficient.
Mastery on the other hand, is a word that I get excited about. To me it means you understand the tenacity and grit it takes to work through hard situations to become successful. Knowing that when you come up short, it simply means there's room to grow, and that there's work I can do to make the fruit of self control hang on a branch I can reach (or at least start climbing toward).
In this post I want to lay out the train of thought I had when I started to think about self control as self mastery instead. Hopefully it will show you that if you change your thinking in this way, it can have a big impact on how you live life.
Here it goes.
Self control is actually about mastery of your self.
Mastery comes by practice/doing.
What you practice/do comes from the heart, where you believe and know about your self.
What you believe and know becomes your reality.
Its easy to convince ourselves that our reality is truth.
When we are convinced that what we believe and know about our self is true, we can begin to believe all the things we tell our self are true, even if they aren't.
So it's even possible to start believing lies we tell our self, and when we do this it develops patterns in how we behave.
This makes the narrative from our self to our self the most crucial aspect of our patterns for behavior (what we practice/do).
When we speak a specific narrative to our self for long enough, it becomes the way we develop mastery of our self.
When we speak the wrong(untrue) things to our self, the result is brokenness.
Things like shame, self-hate, and abuses begin to control us, and with no effort at all we behave from a broken place feeling like we have little-to-no self control.
The path to wholeness and solid relationships begins with what we tell our self.
Mastering the narrative to our self, aligning our reality with the truth about our self, and believing you can move past broken places and even put those pieces back together is what self control is about.
You're free to believe whatever message you tell your self, but there is true freedom in knowing and telling your self the truth about yourself.
Walking in the truth of who you are makes it simpler to say no to the wrong things and yes to the right things, which establishes positive patterns of behavior that help you master your self.
I love helping people find out the truth about themselves. I encourage you to change the way you talk to your self. It will change your reality, and your life.
How do you receive a message you don't want to hear? How do you respond when you've been offended?
Understanding is shown by behavior, and this behavior is the greatest predictor of gentleness.
More often than not, people who don't show gentleness generate their responses based on the most recent circumstance in their life, no matter whether it was good or bad, or produced positive or negative emotions as a consequence.
Instead of formulating a gentle response through this lens, un-gentle folks typically respond from secondary emotions (anger, fear, desperation, etc.) which oppose this type of behavior.
Looking out for yourself is not completely useless, but doing it should have purpose. There are entirely too many people in this world consumed by pride, and even more negative situations created by it. But you have the power to change your situation using this
If you're interested in changing the world for the better, finding breakthrough in a relationship, creating a positive atmosphere around yourself; one that invites, connects, or inspires others then you should give this a try.
Training yourself to respond instead of react, choosing to lift others above yourself, inspiring people to become their best version of themselves instead of micromanaging their productivity, letting people discover and explore instead of serve your purposes, and choosing to be gentle rather than prideful or angry are all ways to put this into action.
You can change your world and you can do it without force. With this as your starting point there's nothing to hold you back.
["This" is humility. (which is spelled out by the first letter of each of the preceding paragraphs) To be gentle, you must be humble. Portray the opposite of pride, anger, and anxiety and you will indeed change your world.]
You're probably not as faithful as you give yourself credit for. It's likely I'm not either. Sure we may have been at the same job for years, stayed married, or still show up for holidays with the family, all of which are important commitments if we've made them. But faithfulness is not strictly the lack of committing unfaithful acts or thoughts.
Generally, faithfulness is a leaning of the entire human personality in absolute trust and confidence. You're faithful when you consistently rely on the power, wisdom, and goodness of someone higher.
It's interesting to me that betrayal is not the opposite of faithfulness, independence is. Leaning on our own strength or understanding to meet our needs or to get things done reduces our level of faithfulness.
Our culture says that if you're independent, then you're strong. Many people have the goal of raising their children to be strong, independent people. Many schools would be happy to accomplish this feat. And while there is strength in independence it won't get you as far as the strength that comes from interdependence and faithfulness to others. Think of the added power and wisdom that is gained from those we trust and have confidence in, and can we can completely rely on them. Starting a new venture, dealing with trauma, or experiencing healing are a few examples where you may have independent strength, but you'll never come fully through these processes (healthily) on your own strength.
Someone I am relying on recently told me about the quote "rough seas produce strong sailors." It was super encouraging in a time I needed strength to know there was purpose in the struggle I was in. It dawned on me though that when a strong sailor sails a ship of independence, it lands on an island; leaving them deserted.
This story is a great example of how you can benefit from the strength of others. There's a person, and a group of people that I can rely on completely for the strength and wisdom and power I need when I don't have it all myself. I'd love to talk with you more personally about who and what works for me and provides answers to the questions below.
So let's connect!
Who is your entire human personality leaning on? Faithfulness means leaning in, in spite of their ability to meet your needs. Rely on others and be reliable, it's a simple (not always easy) formula for strong relationship.
Who do you have absolute trust in?
Who is your confidence instilled in?
Who can put their trust in you?
If it's yourself then you're missing out on something so much greater!
I think we spend a lot of time in our lives in conversation that breezes over what we really want to talk about, or helps us avoid saying what we really want to say. I'll often ask people how they're doing, and I get the typical response you do. "Good." Or "Good, how are you?" are people's go-to responses. But personally I don't stay on that even keel as often as I like, so I assume others are the same way. If someone replies "good" I will sometimes ask if they're really good, or if they're just saying that so they don't have to continue the conversation.
A nervous laugh is usually followed by a more in depth response, and perhaps even a conversation about what is really weighing on that persons mind. When I started responding to people this way I was not intentionally trying to pry or make people feel awkward, I was doing it more as a quip than anything else. I quickly realized that most people had more behind the surface. People have things they want to talk about, and we often skip this opportunity because of our pre-programmed responses.
We have all given the short response of "good" when asked how we are or how we're doing. But when is the last time you thought about what it means to be good, to do good, or produce goodness.
Goodness is intrinsic, like a personal quality. It's not a result of outwardly following laws or maintaining righteous status according to someone else's standard. Chances are, that at the end of your life you would rather to be known as a person who did good than a person who simply avoided doing bad. And when we hear stories that inspire us about acts of kindness or we see people doing good for others, what is being done is often from a place of kindness rather than requirements for righteousness. Goodness flows into and through your spirit, it's not a reward for following the law.
Knowing this frees me to actively pursue The Source of goodness, and not the approval of other people. When I do something good, and when I make a mess of things, it is always possible to retrace my steps back to the place where goodness comes from. Goodness has no statute of limitations on when it can heal, or whom it can reach.
This truth is for everyone. It's for those who think they have lost their value. For those trying to make a relationship last or become stronger, if you've lost your joy, goodness can flow to you again. If you have a burden for restoring a relationship with someone you love, goodness can flow through you.
Tap into goodness and out will flow kindness, love, forgiveness, generosity, patience, gratitude, and all the other fruit that grows from well-cultivated relationships.
What's the point of being kind? I'm not saying there's no value, but have you ever thought about why you should show kindness?
Many people try to be kind because it makes them feel good. Righteous. Important, or loved.
The problem is that true kindness does not come from a place of self-indulgence, self-gratification, or self-anything... Kindness and pride can't coexist, so if your acts of kindness serve to build up yourself then the things you're doing are not acts of kindness, they're something else.
Kindness is a choice, or more accurately the series of your choices, and it takes wisdom to make choices that show kindness to others. Utilizing this wisdom is about knowing how to relate to others and how to consistently respond positively to them, and it plays out the same as other consistently good decision making. The more consistently you make sound choices to be kind, the more benefits you'll see, and they are mutual.
Perhaps more imprortantly, kindness is also the quality in a person that allows you to approach them. People seek out kindness in all circumstances. You look for it, too. Even after you've wronged them, a kind person is someone you can count on to be caring, understanding, and forgiving.
This is the point of kindness. To be kind is to put yourself in a place where people have the confidence to approach you when they need support, or forgiveness, or love for that matter. It's not about random acts or focusing on choosing to be kind for a time, kindness is more purposeful than that.
When you have the choice to respond in anger, disrespect, aggravation, or any other unkind way, don't. Each time you do, you're putting a bend in the road back to unity, the single necessity of good relationships.
Be wise enough to be kind. It makes the hard parts of having a right relationship easier, the messy parts of relationships draw you closer, and the broken parts of your relationship whole again.
I never imagined it would take me so long to write this post. I (Jared) consider myself to be a patient person, and as I think about what to write even now, its a struggle. I tried to think about ways to make growing the fruit of patience seem super exciting in order to inspire you to wait for what's to come, or systematic so that it seemed easy to develop the skill. But the truth about patience is that its not a personality trait, it's a choice made in wisdom during a trying time.
We come by patience through struggle, by experiencing doubt, with constant questions raging in our minds during situations in which we can’t see the outcome. The process of patience is often difficult, so whats the benefit?
A patient person has great understanding, but a quick-tempered person displays foolishness. A quick temper is something that I have personal experience with, I have not always been a patient person and, while I'm not proud of it, I've learned a lot from my experiences. We're all exposed to situations in which emotion rages inside us, which makes it important to know we have the choice about what happens as my response. In foolishness a hot-tempered person stirs up dissension, but what I never realized was the opposite of hot-tempered dissension was patience. Instead of foolishly stirring up a quarrel further, patience calms.
Understanding, bearing with one another in forgiveness of greivances, and renewing our knowledge of each other is the fruit of patience. Choosing to be patient, understanding, and delay responding from a place of pure emotion is wise, and the benefits to our relationships are incalculable.
When we face the difficult situations in which we can choose patience or a hot-tempered response, the raging inside is present each time. Patient people simply choose to delay their response until the emotions subside, and what a benefit it is to bring that type of calmness to our interactions with each other. What confidence we can have to be honest when we're relating to a patient person! What depth of love we experience when we relate in honesty, bearing imperfection, forgiving, and renewing each other with patience.
Think about those times in your life when you chose to respond in a quick or hot-tempered way. Can you visualize yourself stirring up the dissension? Can you see the relationship chasm widening?
Now think about re-writing those experiences from a perspective of patience. As hard as it may have been, as everything inside you cried out, to choose to calm your response in patience and avert dissension. How would your relationships be different? Who would you know more deeply?
It's certainly easier to respond to turmoil in a foolish, quick-tempered way. But I urge you to consider the benefit of a patient response in those moments. Instead of snap decisions made from high emotion, think of how you can preserve calm and show understanding for those you love.
Establish patience as a pattern and you will see renewal in your relationships.
I work really hard to build my life on the foundation of truth because I think it's a way to honor my wife and my children, the people I meet with everyday, and The One who gave it all for me so I could even have this life.
I feel like the more I pursue truth, the more "un-truth" I have to wade through to find it. It can be really easy to give up on things when it gets difficult, but I heard a quote recently that opened my eyes in a way which allowed me to visualize what pursuing truth is really like.
Winston Churchill stated that "In wartime, the truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies." Referring to the military's deception tactics during WWII the original thought was expressed as a summation of war strategy. In terms of war, you want to keep your true strategy hidden from the enemy.
This strategy of hiding the truth behind a bodyguard of lies is not a modern strategy, it has actually been used since the beginning of time.
We're so far on the outside of many truths, and when we start to look for the truth we are confronted with lies. When we look for love we're confronted with the lies of lust. When we look for kindness we're confronted with a barricade of hatred. Look for the truth of peace and you'll find a wall of pain, resentment, and anxiety.
We long for peace. In the world, in our relationships, and inside our soul and the truth will free you. The truth is that to obtain peace in any arena, it's all about reconciliation.
We want the peace, but we don't want the process it takes to take hold of it. We quit striving for peace the moment we don't reconcile our impatience, or forgive the cause our resentment, or set free the anxiety that binds us. No, the easier path, which is one I often take as well, is to avoid the hardship of making a situation right again when it becomes out of line.
When we don't call, return that text message, go to that meeting because we didn't forgive, ask for forgiveness, or have compassion we separate ourselves from the possibility of true peace by placing around it a bodyguard of lies.
You'd be at peace if you tried to reconcile, or seek to make things right, or forgive, or let go of your pain. This process isn't easy, and it often starts inside yourself. Make yourself right first, then peace will come. Push through the lies you've told yourself, move past the things you've done to try to cope, and deal with the things that rob you of peace.
It's amazing how peace works. It truly is a blessing, and it's gained through a process. Once we have peace, it acts as a bonding agent. Peace is the fruit of making things right (reconciliation), and it holds all our relationships together.
Choose Joy. This quote has become super popular over the last few years. If you walk into any craft store you will almost always find a sign that has ‘Choose Joy’ on it.
If we look back at the definition of joy, we see that it means a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. Great pleasure and happiness seem like something we would all really want to have, so why wouldn’t we ‘Choose Joy’? That sounds desirable.
I(Hannah) understand that joy isn’t something that just comes naturally to everyone. Some people really have to work hard to feel joy. I feel blessed that I am not one of those people. I don’t say that proudly. I seriously am just a really happy person. People would often watch me work and ask, “You are always smiling. Are you ever not happy?”
There is only one time in my life I felt true depression and felt like I wasn’t happy. That was after we had our third child. She did Not. Sleep. Ever. OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. It’s probably better to say, I did not sleep. Ever. Our daughter thought it was great to be fussy and clingy until about 3 or 4 am and then finally settle in for the night (morning?). At this point you might think; “big deal, you get to sleep now while she sleeps.” That’s a great thought, but our one year old son had always been an early riser. So he got up around 4:30 or 5:00 every morning. So for about 6 months I got roughly 1-2 hours of sleep a night. This post is not about tips or tricks to get your children to sleep or how to get your kids to sleep in, so I’m not going to tell you the boring details for all the things we tried. Because we did try. Everything.
Anyway, having joy can require work sometimes. One of the things that I think is key in having joy in our lives and being happy is being well rested. If you’re like me when you are tired, you tend to be a bit grumpy. Or as I like to say, you lose your natural good charm. When I was not sleeping and was exhausted, I really was not happy. For the first time in my life I had to make the decision to choose joy in my everyday life. For years and years I had been naturally happy all the time. And now I literally, every hour, had to make the choice to choose joy or just be miserable.
When things take effort and we have an easier option in front of us, we often choose the easier route. In marriage it can often be easier to just avoid a hard conversation, not have one at all, or leave our honest thoughts left unsaid for fear of making your spouse feel bad. After a while this can leave you feeling miserable. We were not made to hold things in. One thing Jared and I do is have ‘Talking Dates’. This can take place anywhere. For us it’s usually on the couch after the kids have gone to bed. These times are for sharing with each other what has been bothering us, or whatever may be on our minds. We have real, honest, sometimes hard, and open conversation with each other. This has brought so much joy to our marriage. We encourage you to give it a try! Just talk.
Having joy with another person requires different things than having joy within yourself. I often find for myself, that I have the most joy when I’ve had a good nights sleep and wake up before everyone else to have a few minutes alone at the start of the day. Other things that make me happy are going for coffee by myself, playing with my children, seeing friends, etc.
In my relationship with Jared, I find true joy in doing things that make him happy. He enjoys when I take the time to make him his favorite meal for dinner, or when I take time out of my day to write him a letter. He loves when I go on date with him, or hold his hand while we’re driving somewhere. Jared also makes it a point to do things for me that bring me joy in our relationship and I really love that. The more we do things that bring joy to each other in our relationship, the more joy we have as a couple!
Our relationship is filled with great pleasure and happiness when we’re each filled with joy. If your relationship isn’t bringing you joy, please feel free to reach out to us and we would love to help by offering some resources and even chat with you about things that could possibly help. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your spouse what you could do for them that would bring them joy, and don’t be afraid to let them know things that bring you joy as well! Please, do the things that make you happy. Marriage is one of life’s greatest blessings and it should be filled with joy!
So much is said about it...written about it...and especially sung about it that you can (as so many have) make it mean whatever you want. Unless you know the truth, you'll mislead yourself into thinking that what you have experienced, the way others have made you feel, or the commitments you hold to are a healthy and proper display of love.
Love is a deliberate agreement of the wills based in principle and duty. Two people openly agree to and decide to love, and share their love. With each other, then with others.
Love is wide, emphasizing that it should be present in the head, the heart, and the hands. Love that is purely of the heart, or based only on emotion, is not love. Love that is purely of the head, where everything is a calculated benefit, is not love. Love that is purely of the hands, or only about meeting physical needs, is not love. Love becomes stagnant when we limit our scope of expressing love to just one of these.
Love is all these things: of the heart, of the head, and of the hands. If you're truly loving, it will be emotional, you will have to act deliberately to benefit one another, and act to meet their physical needs. Understanding this opens you up to the beauty of love. To fully experience love, and to give love as it has been given to you, you will (need to) sacrifice everything else.
Love is complete and alive when we consider how we can spur each other on toward love and good deeds. What good is the love you have for another person if it doesn't spur the two of you to something greater and more profound.
The truth is that love, while deep and wide, and covers all offenses, and leads us to great relationships, isn't the only facet to a strong relationship. There's a whole other side to relating to each other that requires honor and respect. This is usually where our relationships break down first, and once respect and honor are dissolved then love follows suit.
I am in no way downplaying the value and effect love has in our relationships, but our culture says "love is all you need" and that doesn't tell the whole story. Love is the greatest piece, and when we love completely, adding honor and respect, we have what's necessary for strong lasting relationships.
Honor, respect, and love each other. Spark each other to love, and watch the fire start blazing!
When I started this business it was focused on providing the best photography experiences for clients, and along the way I would try to encourage what really mattered in Life. Whether it was a newly engaged couple, a graduating senior, or a family that was celebrating a moment in their life together, I haphazardly tried to plant moments of true enlightenment in the hearts and minds of those I worked with. I love making amazing images, but the attempts I made at showing people truth was (sort of secretly) my true joy.
I want to be clear that "Life In Light" brings a passion for using light to create great images. I work hard to create images that will establish an emotional connection forever with those that view them. And originally, "Life In Light" was about capturing those special moments using amazing light (and my camera).
We have more to share. We have more to offer.
Light exposes darkness. It casts darkness out when it enters the scene. The beautiful thing about photography is that it uses light and darkness to tell stories, and often, exposing great images requires being at the edge of where light meets darkness. Light and darkness don't mingle, but they border each other at all times. Life in Light walks in light, works in light, and purposes to cast out darkness. We have (and are developing) big plans to fellowship with people and work with them to make this become a reality, not just in terms of photography, but in terms of relationship and "Life."
We hope to mentor and speak life in order to provide enlightenment for the people we work with. Hannah and I want to be a resource for engaged and married couples and provide a connection for growing and strengthening their marriages. Helping people know the truth about life is something we really believe in. By providing insight through blogging and in-person meetings, and gifting opportunities to experience the core truths that have helped us grow our marriage and relationships, we hope to have a positive impact on the marriages and relationships of those we work with. This is the part of photographing special moments in people lives that I have always enjoyed, and we're excited to honor others by ministering to them in this way.
Basically, Life In Light is about living in light, and exposing truth so that others can live life in light. We hope that you'll take the journey with us, support us, and engage with us in this adventure. If you need support, encouragement, honesty, or insight please connect with us because we're here for you.
Growing up, one of my favorite movies was "Dennis, the Menace" If you've never seen it, first of all, shame on you. Secondly, find it and watch it!
Its a story about a mischevious child and his adventures, that always somehow get him in troublesome situations. The movie follows the period of time Dennis spends with his grumpy old neighbor Mr. (and Mrs.) Wilson. During this time, Dennis' mischief escalates and he ends up screwing up pretty bad at a garden party that Mr. Wilson is hosting on the evening that his rare, indigenous bloom opens up in the light of the moon. This plant is so special, and so rare that it blooms only once in a lifetime, and only for a few seconds, which Mr. Wilson misses as a result of Dennis' curiosity over the garage door button.
Of all the great parts of this movie, even as a kid I remember thinking, that plant is the dumbest. I asked myself why someone would spend years and years to plant a seed, painstakingly cultivate it, and nurture it if it were only to bloom for a few seconds.
I have since realized how much I've learned about relationships from that plant, as silly as it seems. Here's three things:
1. Cultivation matters
Plants are a great representation of relationships. Not only do you need to have the proper conditions (climate, soil, space, etc.) in order for a plant to grow, but you also need to maintain those conditions and work the ground around the plant as is grows to ensure the proper growth. If you stop cultivating, the plant's chances of continuing to grow are limited.
In a relationship this is true as well. It helps if you work to create the right conditions in your own life, understanding who you are and the things that help you grow is super important. Maintaining personal growth and making time to build those areas has been really helpful for Hannah and me. If you stop cultivating the relationship, it will stop growing.
2. Beauty is fleeting
If you're fortunate enough to get everything right when you plant a seed, the result is amazing. The bloom, or fruit is beautiful. It's ok to enjoy it, because it doesn't last forever. Sometimes you cultivate for a long time and the result doesn't last long at all.
The cool thing about relationships is that you don't always have to get all the conditions in order before you see the beauty. In the messiness of relating to others, there is beauty. You will continue to find this beauty if you keep cultivating, keep learning, keep growing, and keep promising to love. Too much emphasis has been placed on the "one and done" philosophy. Good relationships are like plants in that there is a cycle of beauty and fruit and cultivation. Beauty flees at times, but if you keep working at it you'll see it again.
3. Joy is powerful
Im thinking about the short moments of beauty we see in plants and how much of an emotional connection we can establish in those moments. There is a wow factor at first, then you just keep looking back at the plants when they're beautiful, perhaps taking time to smell, cut off a few and take them home to enjoy them, and so on.
There is power in beauty, even when it's not present. The power is in the ability of the human mind to retain positive emotion. I believe that positive emotion trumps negative every time, and moments of love and joy make the process of working hard to cultivate good relationships worth productive struggle.
Grow old together. Know that it's not always fruit and blooms. Cultivate constantly. And never stop planting seeds.
I (Jared) think and read about marriage a lot. Mainly because I'm constantly pursuing success in my own marriage, but also partly because I want to help other people strengthen their marriages. There is so much said in our current culture that blindly stabs at, blatantly disregards, and backwardly interprets successful marriages.
For the last year or so I have also had a growing interest in and fascination with the Greek language. I would love to explain to you why (ask and I'll freely tell you), but will spare doing it in this post. Following these two trains of thought led me to what I consider to be a very dynamic discovery, so I'll share that with you.
The Greek word for divorce is ἀφίημι (aphiēmi) and its meaning is to "leave" or to "let leave," otherwise meaning to "let go."
The Greek word for forgive is ἀφίημι (aphiēmi) and it means to "let go," or to "set free." It is the same word In Greek as divorce, and there is only slight variance in the definitions between divorce and forgive.
As I reflected on this I couldn't help but draw parallels between the processes of divorce and forgiveness. I am not an experiential expert on the factors of divorce, and I do not intend to speak to your personal experience, but I would like to share my thoughts about this with you.
I think it's profound that the process of letting go of the person you marry by divorce is often a result of not letting go of their offenses against you by forgiveness.
Forgiveness is, without doubt, the most difficult gift to give another person. It's a response to pain. It's navigated through emotion. It's gratified incrementally. It is never in harmony with our initial feelings related to a negative event in our relationships. There is an emptiness inside us all, and when we're offended, hurt, neglected, or bruised this emptiness is exploited.
When this happens our natural response is bitterness. No matter how small the seed of bitterness when it's planted, if not addressed with forgiveness, begins to grow. Bitterness reacts with bitterness and a vicious cycle of unloving and disrespectful behaviors begin to set in. This can become an ugly situation and the only solution to the problem is to offer up, accept, and grow together through the process of forgiveness.
Its the process of "setting free" those that offend you and "letting go" of their offenses against you, as they happen, that can keep you from getting to the point "leaving" or wanting to "let leave" the person you vow to have and to hold.
I chose the title of this post (divorce = forgiveness) because of the congruence in their meaning. But, in actuality, the smaller more frequent choice of forgiveness is greater than the larger choie of divorce. Either way, you have to "let (something) go (free)", which will you choose?
Forgiveness > Divorce.
I'm (Jared) writing this post sitting in a hotel lobby waiting for a room to be cleaned that I ordered days ago. I'm, of course, thinking about having the capacity to do things well. The hotel staff told us that the rooms in their hotel were extra dirty from the weekend (of music auditions) so it took longer to clean them all. [insert stinky musician joke].
Hannah and I are away celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary, so as I am waiting I am drawing parallels between what it takes to have the capacity to make sure all your hotel rooms are cleaned by the time you promise, and what it takes to have the capacity to make sure your marriage stays strong and you can grow in relationship together.
Will your marriage last? Will it stand up when everything our culture says tries to knock it down? What are you doing, whether you're single, engaged, or married, in order to build capacity for a lasting marriage?
Some things that have helped us are:
- Communicate Openly
- Always Keep Dating
- Find friends in the same stage of life
- Give each other personal time alone to do things they enjoy
There are tons of things you can do. Find common ground about making sure you, and the people you choose to be around, make your marriage a priority. Do things together and on your own that build your capacity to do a great job being a husband or wife.
And perhaps more importantly, learn to avoid the things that slowly demolish your relationship. Things done in secret, speaking disrespectfully, using phones when you're in the same room, the list goes on. You know what things to call into question in your own relationships. Avoid these things, and focus on pouring in the positive things that help you build capacity to do things the right way in your relationships.
In high school I was a percussionist in the band. Of all the different instruments I had the experience of playing and trying out my favorite is, by far, the tympani. It's a pitched drum that you can change the pitch of to play in conjunction with other pitches.
You can find the right pitch by using a pitch pipe to play the note you want the drum to sound. But the amazing thing is, as you tune the drum, if you can hum the note properly with your head near the drum something amazing happens.
As you begin tuning the drum, the note you're humming and the pitch of the drum are not in equillibrium. This causes the note of the drum to vibrate only in the ear allowing you to hear the pitch of the drum. BUT, when the note you hum in your head comes into equilibrium with the pitch of the drum you can FEEL the sound. It's amazing and it truly penetrates the ear into vibrates the entire head.
YOU ARE LOVED.
When you hear these words, do you just hear them? Do they play a different pitch than you do in you head and your heart? Do you take in the fullness of the truth that you are loved? Do these words obtain equilibrium with the notes inside you to the point that you can feel them?
Love is an action, and when you believe you're loved on the inside, and this reaches equilibrium with the love that is provided to you, you should FEEL the experience and it should rock you, move you, and shake you.
We live in a world of instant gratification. On-demand, instant download, fast food, rapid gains, etc. these are all just responses for our internal desire for instant gratification. We want to see the results of our "hard" work, and see our decisions pay off for us.
Seeing results is not the same as Getting results. Most of the things we do have some sort of short term effect. We have gotten used to this, and expect it in the world around us. But there are times when it is more beneficial for us to do, act, or speak and then delay the gratification. Patiently waiting to GET results instead of bustling about, worrying about SEEING results.
Think about the following attitudes: love and lust, kindness and anger, ambition and greed.
The difference in these pairs of attitudes is our ability to delay the gratification and patiently wait, even if we aren't seeing the results we want from our efforts. The negative attitudes and the positive alike initiate from common emotions. What we want, without delayed gratification, can turn into some terrible actions (lust, anger, greed) and we can SEE the results quite immediately. Relationships are destroyed, lives become broken, and the results last forever.
When we choose to delay gratification of our efforts (love, kindness, ambition) we GET results, even when we might not see them. Relationships grow, our lives become exemplary, and the results last forever.
You get back what you give out. Patiently wait to get results. If you don't see them don't feel ungrateful. Evil will eventually be defeated, and that will be fully gratifying.
It's a rare occasion that someone successfully fulfills an endeavor without exemplars. An exemplar is more than an example, an exemplar is an excellent model.
In life, your every endeavor has both examples and exemplars that speak to either part or all of how you should succeed. The problem that arises is that we follow, or learn from the examples in our life without considering the alternatives (exemplars) we settle for a less superior, and sometimes terrible experience. These examples guide us and teach us and so it is important to consider the quality of the examples you have before deciding which to choose as the one you will engage.
Successful, joyful, satisfied people often credit their success, joy, and satisfaction the the lessons they learned from examples. We can see that they did not just follow any example they came across, but were selectively using exemplars to guide their way. Whether books, relationships, or failed attempts are the source, successful experiences are engaged from the excellent models we have encountered.
My advice, then, is simple. Seek, find, and engage the excellent models in your life and use those exemplars, not just examples of insufficient quality, to guide you as you journey through life.
Vehicles, by one definition, are the modes by which people reach their destination. This definition promotes the idea of transportation, but a solid Google search reveals an alternate definition that I'll compare to our usual thoughts about vehicles. A vehicle is also "a thing used to express, embody, or fulfill something."
I like this definition (many of you have heard it before) because it speaks to the specifics of how the destination is reached, or how that something is fulfilled.
Some vehicles are simple. Some vehicles are elaborate. Some vehicles have powerful engines. Some vehicles you power yourself. But in any case of how, the vehicle's job is to get you to where you want to end up, or to provide fulfillment along the way.
Your life is the vehicle of your final destination. Life is designed not only to have a final destination, but to also provide immense opportunities for fulfillment along the journey. What type of vehicle are you? How simple is your vehicle? How much time do you spend thinking about how your vehicle looks? How much time do you spend thinking about how powerful your vehicle is?
We can get caught up in making our vehicle (life) appealing to others, when the substance of life is not about the type of vehicle we have, or its features and qualities. But rather how it embodies, expresses, gives, and receives fulfillment.
Focusing on your fulfillment, and not the lacking of it, frees you to use your life as a vehicle for fulfilling others...and that's the whole point, really.