Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

Personality is a wonderful thing! It provides us with variety, and keeps the spark in our relationships.  How boring life would be if every tree in the orchard were an apple tree!  How tedious our days would be, if everyone were the same.  Our lives would be like those “built overnight” neighborhoods, where all the houses look the same; like they were designed with a cookie-cutter!  It is the differences that keep us discovering — and I for one, need the differening personalities to keep me on a growth pattern!  

Now, if you aren’t familiar with personality profiles, let me help here by explaining a little.  I have to set the story up for you — because this week, I made a discovery of my own.   

Personality profiling is used all over the workplace these days, to help corporations learn about team dynamics.  Profiling tools are used to help workers discover what needs adjustment in their working relationships. Some Human Resource departments use profiling tools, to learn whether an applicant desiring a job would really be a “fit” for that particular job. Police departments create profiles in order to catch criminals…. it’s fascinating stuff. And uncannyingly accurate!

Simply put: there are four basic personality types.  Everyone on the planet carries all four, in varying degrees. And, while some people are similar, each combination is unique; mixing with our individual learning styles, our level of emotional development, etc., to define our personality; our Personhood.  Additionally, most of us utilize different forms of ourselves depending upon the pressures of the environment we find ourselves in…. Short version; one of the main keys to healthy living is choosing to do whatever it takes to heal and grow– The end goal is to become consistently stable, in holding to the same personality in every environment. This is called “congruency”…  although no one comes to it quickly … or perfectly.  

Understand here,  I am talking about Emotional Quotient (which involves inner life; feelings, principles, values and morals) — as opposed to Intelligence Quotient (which involves outer life; facts, cliches, status and task).  Relationships are part of the EQ of life — When relationships are run in IQ, they fail every time…. 

But EQ is hard to grasp; it’s like learning a new language, especially if inner life wasn’t addressed in bonding years. EQ is intangible and relationship based — most of us need help to “get it.”  On the other hand, IQ is easier to get hold of, because it is task oriented and has to to with the tangibles — “just the facts, please.”  As a result, the majority of us live our lives in the IQ levels, avoiding the pain of digging into the EQ, for as long as we can possibly get away with it….

Personality types vary in degrees.  To put it simply — here are the four styles — 1. The Driver; the lion, or choleric…    2. The Inspirer; the otter, or sanguine…. 3. The Steady; the golden retriever, or phlegmatic…..  4. The Conscientous; the beaver, or melancholic….. 

After years of behavioral analysis, mediating conflicts, helping couples decipher “missed moments,” I made a discovery of my own this week.  You know, the “aha” moment, the “synapses” — when the left and right brain connect, and you wonder why you didn’t “see it’ before….

My husband is a “lion” — by that I mean his personality type. He is one of those energetic, determined leader-guys, who enjoys being out in front forging a path. He could cut a path through the jungle with a machete, and not mind the challenges of being the first to get there. His secondary personality type is the “otter.” You know the type; always telling jokes; drawing people in with his stories. When it comes to his learning style, he has this mind that never forgets a name. It has to be a gift. I say that because I have a hard time with names. I remember faces, and then my mind runs through the alphabet — “Was it an A name? B?” 

At one point, I thought I could improve my mind-remembering skill-level; I didn’t realize the problem was part of my genetics. Because my relationships with people are important to me, I tried a course in memory-association. This particular course was excellent — the problem was the student…. Here was the proposed process: Think of a picture that reminds you of the item (or person) you want to remember.  Give the picture a name that relates to their name, or a feature of their person.  Well, the course promises that the next time you see the person, you will remember the association, etc. Hence, success.

I must have been missing that day — that part of my IQ level wasn’t developed yet…..  A lady came to visit us.  In the midst of a sea of faces, I learned her name; “Mrs. Stack.”  She was a a rather large woman, with short, blonde, straight hair.  So, in my mind, for some reason, I pictured a haystack. Go figure. Did it work, you ask?  Well, the next time I saw her, the part of recalling the image worked. The yellow haystack showed up in my mind; but so did self-doubt.  I called her “Mrs. Needle.” 

You’re smiling. I can’t help it. My mind just goes blank.

My husband is a lion. Like Aslan, in the Chronicles of Narnia, he isn’t a tame lion, but he’s kind…. 

Me? I’m a “golden retriever,” with a little “beaver” thrown in for good measure. I’m the team player who doesn’t like to be alone; who dislikes sudden changes; is mercy-motivated and is happy to help administrate the details. My kids give me a hard time when I’m writing on the laptop too long.   “Come out and play,” they say. Between the two of us, Bill and I have a combination of all four styles in our marriage — which, theoretically, works really great when all inner conflicts have been resolved.  It gives us a complete offering of all the styles… Great for child-rearing, and problem solving.

The “aha,” you ask?  It was this week. I had a picture go through my head… had to be God-breathed.  It made me laugh, actually. Picture this: A golden retriever with a lion’s mane tied around its head. Silly? Perhaps. Think about this… Golden retrievers and lions are the same color, but they are not the same.  They will never be the same. Lions roar and establish territory. Retrievers bark and couldn’t care less about territory. Lions can walk ahead, and work alone. Retrievers need a pack, or companionship. 

I realized this week that for one reason or another, I had placed undue expectations on my God-given personality.  As a result, I had been struggling with guilt when I found myself unable to follow through with those unspoken expectations.  No one put it on me — I just absorbed it over time. When or how I picked it up, I’ll never know.  I think it must have happened gradually — an incremental “weighing down” if you will. Somehow, I thought I had to be more “lion-ly” in my day-to-day life….  I felt guilty for my emotional genetics, something God never intended. Finally, when it surfaced, my hubby and I worked through it.  “I’m so tired,” I told him. “Something has to give.”  Then, came the vulnerable question. “What do you think?”

“I didn’t know you were carrying all that. I don’t want that for you,”  he said. “Let’s fix it.”  Did I tell you he was a kind lion — and my best friend?

Sometimes, without realizing it, we try to change ourselves, denying who we were created to become. Sometimes, we decide to dislike the personality God gave us because we want to gain greater acceptance (we think) or wider approval (we hope).  Sometimes, we allow circumstances and relationships to weigh us down, changing us for survival.  Sometimes, we just slam the door and refuse to think about it.

But it’s part of our purpose on the planet — this discovering of design and purpose. God’s intention is to strengthen our inner selves, so that we live our lives in truth, adhering to His created purpose.  How long has it been since you asked Him who He wants you to be?

He’s got a plan, you know. And it’s a good one — with a future and a hope.  But it might involve a little change….

(C) 2010 DG — Awakened to Grow.  Duplication without permission prohibited.





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Communication is under-rated. 

Like when our Rachel was learning to drive. That learning activity was something Bill did with her, and I observed from the back seat. Not having my husband’s great depth perception, my observations many times came with involuntary drawing-ins of air, and the universal-Mom’s invisible-brake pedal.  

“Turn left at the next street, honey,” Bill instructed, during one of her early lessons.  Now mind you, I had no reason to believe she wouldn’t do exactly what her father told her.  Up until that point, she had done rather well,  staying between the lines; braking slowly, accelerating respectfully —   

During moments like those you learn lessons about your children. Why is it we remember those moments of surprise so well?Perhaps because  we are vulnerable; especially when they are driving. After all,  they have the steering wheel!  That particular driving lesson,  we arrived at the left-turn corner in question, and Rachel drove past it, never slowing.

“Why didn’t you turn?” her father asked, watching not only the road-sign, but the purpose of our outing — the  Wendy’s and their large Frosty — pass into rear-view. 

“You said, ‘turn left,‘ Dad,” she responded, keeping her eyes on the road.  “I will when we get there.”

Bill and I exchanged glances. What was she saying?

“We did get there,” I said. “Why didn’t you turn?”

“M- ah-m!”  She sighed her reply, using the fifteen-year-old voice that only daughters-who-have-been-daughters,  of mothers-who-are-being-mothers would recognize.  At the next corner, Rachel began putting one hand over another, turning the steering wheel. 

Her dad and I found ourselves laughing.  Out loud. 

“What?” she asked, looking at us.  Her father’s eyes were twinkling as he responded. “Must be your other left, Rach,” was all he said, as the car made a right-hand turn.

From her earliest years, our daughter has mixed her directions. (I could write a book here, but I don’t want to get off track….)  When she was five, we tried everything, from making an “L” with the “left” hand, to memory games.  We even did the drill: “My left makes an ‘L’ and I write with my right.”  She tried hard; even to the point of frustration.  The knowledge just didn’t “stick.”  (Bear in mind that these days she is a gifted wedding photographer!  And even back then she was designing wedding dresses and evening gowns.)

She just couldn’t remember which side was left, and which side was right! 

For the sake of the story, I should tell you: I know exactly where the weakness in Rachel’s personal navigation system came from.  It wasn’t her fault.  For as long as I can remember, I too, have struggled; mixing digits, turning numbers; directionally challenged…. Once, years ago, not long after Bill and I were married, I once drove 25 miles out of the way, driving home alone from the grocery store!  Way back then, we were a young couple in a new city. That sense of not-knowing scared me.  Now, thirty years out? I have learned to deal.  After all, the tendency has surfaced so many times, for so long…. Now, its something we all joke about with each other.  “No, Mom,”  they say, “you don’t have to drive. We’ll lead you.”  

I’m thankful I can ask. I’m thankful for family. Additionally, I’m deeply grateful for community. Because, even though I keep maps in my car; several of my friends continue to be kind enough to answer their cell phones and take the time to provide me a running-feed of control-tower encouragement as I search for the right road.  I’ve become really good at U-turns; even the 3, 4, 5 and 6-point types of turns….  (Just a note:  This year, my favorite Christmas gift was the GPS our children gave me.  It’s great! — it has even helped my prayer life!  If I need to travel to a new place, I pull it out.  Then I pray the sky isn’t too cloudy to find a signal….)

Mixed directions. Misunderstood signals.  It seemed natural when the girls were smaller, to find different ways to communicate what they needed to learn.  For example, when they were learning to set the table, we didn’t tell them the fork went on the right (I mean left!) — Instead, we drew a template and asked them to copy it with the dishes.  When we passed food during Family Table, we would point in the desired direction and say, “Pass the bread that way.”  And guess what?  It worked.  Our girls learned.  We connected.  The table got set; the bread was passed.

As I’ve been working on the worksheets for teaching couples to bond, I’ve found myself thinking this week about my own sense of being directionally challenged, and what it has taught me about bonding issues.  Those places within each of us where we are still waiting for bonding to occur — those are the areas where our conflicts take place. Those are the areas where we have developed false strength. 

Those are the areas where the signal isn’t clear; “left” doesn’t really mean “left” to us — And even though we work hard, using the same minimal tools we have always used — it doesn’t seem to “click.”   I’ve had parents explain this away, by saying, “If my child never had it, they don’t know it’s missing, and that’s okay.”   If you have thought that way, let me ask you to follow that kind of thinking to its conclusion, and consider an equivalent statement:

“My child never grew a right arm, but it’s okay. They’re not handicapped.  They have the same abilities as everyone else.”

Such a statement isn’t true, is it?

I’m sure we’ll discuss this more at a later point, because it is where I am in the learning process of helping people heal right now…. Just let me say that bonding gaps cause us to develop wrong perceptions about who we are; places where have chosen to live our lives alone. Usually, these are the empty places, left unaddressed in us, for one reason or another.  Used to being alone, we choose to survive alone;  not choosing community; figuring it out by ourselves. 

Such independence does not make us stronger, it just gets us lost… like me on new roads without a GPS– only refusing to make a phone call.   We become like explorers without a compass.  When this independence happens within a marriage, it transends into parenting;  and our children do not receive the emotional tools they need.  How can they? 

We cannot give to them, what we don’t have — Or teach them what we haven’t learned ourselves.  

The Solution for our bonding needs is presented in our Heavenly Father.  He is God — He is the One who made us, who loves us, who chooses us to be His — no matter what.  He is the Only God, and  He speaks every language.  He knows every bonding deficit.

The moment we open to receive His love — He begins the process — He will do whatever it takes to connect with you.  That is why He came in the form of  Jesus Christ.  

If that seems a little scary right now, then, at the very least, begin opening your life to those you love.  Admit your weaknesses.  Ask for help.   Then, look around.  Let me encourage you to find a solid group of real believers in Christ who believe in the value of community; Safe people, who will let you fail as you learn. 

God isn’t about religion — He is about relationship; and it’s not anything you can earn by keeping a set of rules, or acting a certain way.

He just loves you, and wants you to get the right signals.



(C)2010 DG — Awakened To Grow .  Duplication without permission prohibited.

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I love my car — really.  Well, I’m thankful that I have a car.  More than being grateful for the vehicle, I guess what I should say is that I’m thankful for my hubby; indefatigable man that he is.  I know this because we have remodelled a house together, built a church together, remodelled another church,…. you get the idea.   

Well, about a year ago, he was out of town for a class; he’s a doctoral student. (I think I mentioned that somewhere.) While he was away, he delegated to me the job of purchasing a car.  I know, I know, I hear you. But it wasn’t like that.  No. Really, it wasn’t. We had looked for weeks – together.  He had done the leg work, and wanted me to look the car over.  A mechanic, who was a friend, or should I say, used to be a friend, had gleaned the best of two used Hondas and merged them together to create what we hoped would prove to be a hybrid.  It was affordable, and it was available — what could be better?  

Bill must have forgotten that I know as much about picking a car as I do about football. (I’ve watched it for years, I just don’t get it.)

Our friend had taken a car with a blown engine, and replaced it’s get-up-and-go with the motor from a Honda with a trashed frame — 121,000 on the good frame; 81,000 on the good engine.  Such a deal it was. Really it was. I keep telling myself that…

So now, here we are, a year later.  Thanks to my husband’s tenacity, and the kindness of our friends (one in particular who is an excellent mechanic — not the other guy),  I have a new car.  Not the shiny kind. ..

Maybe we’ll paint it.

The new car I refer to is my little Honda.  Yes the very same.  We now have a new air conditioning system, new brakes, new tires, new head gasket, all new hoses, a flushed radiator, a new lower control arm, new window motors and regulators, a new master cylinder, new fan motor control switch,  a working window washer unit, all new spark plugs, new shocks and struts, and the list continues….

I’ve always liked lemonade….. did I say that out loud?  I still do — it’s the south….

Not only that, but the “Cash for Klunkers” program didn’t appeal to me.  I just can’t see taking our used cars to a dealership, who then would have to destroy them; unable to sell them just to comply with the program.  It didn’t seem right to me, or to Bill, that the steel in my little Honda then be sold to Japan or China to build their steel industries, while our American car auctions see a freeze in the market….. didn’t seem right somehow.

So, I’ll drive my little Honda til the wheels fall off.  And I’ll be grateful, really grateful,  that I have a car, and no car payments.  Come to think of it, maybe the first mechanic’s idea of a secondary market wasn’t all that off, after all.  All she needed was a little love and tenacity.  Those ingredients can fix just about anything.

Even marriages. 

How long would you drive your car down the road with all the lights on the dashboard blinking?  How far would you get if the temperature gauge pegged itself to “hot,” and steam was coming out of the engine?  And yet, many times, we think we can continue travelling blithely through life when the relationships in our lives are sending us glaring signals — yet we wait until the motor seizes to do a tune-up

If you are in such a place in any relationship in your life, let me make a suggestion to you.  Considering the American culture, and the social networks within what we call the “Christian Culture,” only one in four of those who are referred to a counselor actually follow through with seeking one out.  Of that 25%, less than half will follow through with pursuing the healing that requires personal change.  Knowing the stats on broken and blended families, what does that tell us about the emotional stability of our nation? And our level of actual spiritual maturity?

The inside is more important than the outside.  Going through the rebuilding process with my little Honda has taught me that, yet again!  It’s made me love her more. 

And most importantly? The radio works, and I can park  her anywhere!!

(C)2010 DG — awakenedtogrow.com

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