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Introspective Sojourner

The journey inward following Christ’s path to that person I was uniquely created to be.

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marriage

110%: Too Narrow a View?

“I need you to give 110%!”  I just cringe when I hear that.  Even people who are not good at math have most likely been told that you can’t have more than 100%.  Percent makes it “of the whole”.  You can’t have more than a whole pie of a pie.  You can however have too narrow a view.  Perhaps you are really only considering a slice of the pie.  If you give 110% effort at work, or at a sport, what was the cost to the other pieces of your pie?  Did you give less at home, perhaps to a spouse or your children?  That will cost you in the health of your relationship slice of pie.  Did you negate your need for sleep or exercise?  Those things will eventually cost you in your health slice of pie.  Burnout is right around the corner if you ignore those.  Did you skip picking up, doing the dishes, or laundry, or other household functions?  Those will eventually catch up with you, so your ability to give 110% to whatever you are focusing on, is time limited.  Did you cut out your quiet time with God or your spirituality as a whole?  That will affect… well pretty much everything else in your life.  Somehow it’s usually the first thing we cut out, isn’t it?  Yet it’s kind of the crust to our pie. It’s what everything is built upon.

You could have been thinking about the other valid way to get 110%, though that is still an incorrect way of describing your level of effort.  You could be comparing your effort to an expectation level that is actually too low.  Did you compare your full effort to someone else’s full effort and determine you gave significantly more than they did?  The way that they slice their pie does not change how you sliced yours.  Did you expect to be able to do less and surprise yourself?  Therefore you feel like your effort was more than your ability to give?  I’m guessing you see the issue with the this immediately.  Your ability to do more than you thought you could, is either that you underestimated your time and talents, or you took from a different slice of your pie to be able to focus more fully on the task requiring your effort, thus putting it back into our “too narrow a view” idea.

Looking more closely at the estimation of our ability, that we often compare our actual effort against, can easily go both ways.  On some occasions we are proud of our selves for achieving more than we thought possible.  It was obviously possible, so our theory that it wasn’t was incorrect.  Nonetheless, we also berate ourselves when we don’t complete our self-assigned lists, or complete them to a lower standard than self-assigned as a perfect score.  My supposition is that often the second one is another piece of the pie catching up with us.  It needed our attention previously, but we stole from that piece of the pie temporarily, and now the piper needs to be paid.  Frequently the piper that shows up is the ones we can’t ignore such as poor health or need for rest.

The Bible gives us a great example where God clearly expects us to get enough rest and take care of our own needs in the story of Elijah.  Elijah had just killed all of those prophets of Baal.  He had been on the mountain top in his career, and here comes Jezebel and she’s out for blood.  She wants Elijah dead, and she’s the queen.  Being hated by those in charge, even feeling like you are disliked, is completely draining.  Elijah ran away and hid.  Good plan! I think.  God sends an angel and tells him to get up and eat, and then go rest.  A second time God sent an angel to instruct him to eat and rest.  Finally God tells him that he really needs to eat because the journey is too far.  This is where most of us think the story starts.  This is where Elijah listens for the Lord but the Lord is not in the wind, or the earthquake, but in the gentle whisper.  Elijah had to really be listening to hear him.

I often fail here because I was too busy being a storm of my own to stop and listen.  I’m also a regular steal-er from the health and rest pies, when I’m completing a different task.  It always catches up to me and then I berate myself for not meeting my own standards.

What’s your point already?  Right!

My point is we need that balanced life.  God designed us to need a balanced life.  He then made sure to give us examples in his word where He shows that He values our need to balance our lives.  We innately know that we need a balanced life, that’s not news to us.  But our need to take pride in our effort is the root of the problem.  We get unbalanced when we try to give 110%.  When we stretch ourselves in one area of our life and neglect another, we eventually pay the price.  Sometimes there can be long term consequences such as divorce or estrangement, or long term health issues that can not be resolved or can’t be resolved quickly.

I believe this pride issue, that gets us out of wack, starts with our thought process.  That need to be proud of ourselves or gain the approval of others by giving more than expected is the catalyst.  That desire to overachieve in one area of our life, without looking at the whole pie, is the first harmful action.  Comparing your slice of pie to how someone else slices their pie, on the other hand, only breeds apathy and disdain.  It is even less healthy.  Both are a battle in our minds.  Changing our thoughts to be kinder to ourselves and others is at least part of the answer.  Stopping the internal slave driver, who is fine with you skipping your exercise routine, but forces you to stay late at work.  Stopping that internal comparison to others which keeps you driven to be the best you can be, until the other parts of your pie come crashing in around you, never works out the way we want.  Instead of expecting 110% from yourself, or that you must always get an A, do your best without stealing from the rest of your pie.  Take the whole whole of your life into consideration.

You can’t sleep when you’re dead.  You need to do it now and you need to stop beating yourself up for needing to do it now.  You can’t have the best relationship with your friends and family if you neglect them now, not without taking from another slice of pie to restore it later.  So next time you feel the need to give 110%, acknowledge where you are stealing from.  Acknowledge that you are cutting into another needed piece of your life.  If you are honest with yourself about that and you choose to do that for a season, then give more.  Otherwise look at the whole whole and stop expecting someone else to divide their pie the way you do.  Then most importantly, start with your crust.  Start by listening to God.  Spending time with Him and in His word.  Look at your pie the way He does.  He’s the recipe holder after all.  Who else knows how to make your pie the best it can be?

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

Amidst Wedding Preparation, a Sacred Moment

The day is just around the corner for my son.  A save the date card arrived in the mail nearly a year ago.  Can that be possible?  I was going to lose 10 pounds, just 15 more to go.  We started off with Pinterest pins and ideas.  We live so far away.  Mostly we started worrying about that airfare.  Then a location for the ceremony was found and invitations sent.  Suddenly there were plans being made.  So many plans, connecting so many people, as bridesmaids and groomsmen were selected.

Next came the attire and the look and feel of the wedding.  Our daughter in law to be is quite the planner, but gracious and thoughtful, not pushy.  Lives roared forward disrespecting the importance of this time.  We turned around and it was time to buy those tickets, rent those tuxes, and buy the dresses and shoes.  We were making plans to meet up with family and work out schedules in our tiny trip East.  The stress was mounting as the pressure to accommodate as much as possible stacked up.  It was really starting to affect me.

Yet here I am in a quiet moment where the sacred breaks back through. Remembering my son when he was still so tiny.  He was a leg hugger.  He’s six foot five now.  I look up to him instead.   Back then he had this sweet innocent smile and big blue eyes.  I would tossel his unruly hair and he would hug me with his whole body.  My little leg ornament, leg warmer.  I would pray for this upcoming moment.  I would pray for my daughter in law to be.  I have for all of my children and now my grandchildren.  It started shortly after this son was born, my second oldest.

It seemed so natural back then.  This sweet little soul that God would mold.  Please guide me as a parent.  I should have prayed that part a lot more.  Help me to love the man he will become and not some idea of what I think he should be.  Be with him and his future spouse.  Guard their souls.  Gently guide them together.  Help them to love life, to be loyal and faithful to each other, keeping you first God.  Help them to love to laugh.  I may have prayed this part too much with this child.  Help them to work hard, and have integrity, and to be content with what they have.  Help them to be gentle and kind, and love each other, not only as spouses but as best friends.  Mostly help them to allow grace to cover the rest.

Over thirty years I’ve prayed a prayer similar to that.  Since before she was even born.  I asked God for just the right spouses for all of my children.  In a couple of weeks, I’ll be two for two.  God is good.

Yet he’s still my little boy, even if I look up at him now… way up at him.  He’s becoming that man God wants him to be.  I’m so very proud of him.  He makes me laugh.  He’s so much of those things I prayed for all of those years.  There might be a little room for grace but as we approach the wedding day, the sacred breaks through.

He’s just my perfect little boy with bright blue eyes and unruly hair… and that smile that melts my heart.  My little leg warmer.  He became a man somewhere along the road, just not in my heart.

The day is coming.  Our family gladly welcoming this precious girl we’ve waited for,  for so long. When your vows are said and day is done, may God’s blessing be my gift to you each and every day.

 

With all my love,

Mom

 

A Vow of Respect

I vowed to “Respect” in my wedding vows.  My husband vowed to “Cherish”.  We went with those traditional vows.  We actually fought to keep them more traditional.  That was nearly 27 years ago. Perhaps God saw the people we would become and tried to assist us by making us promise!  Back then it didn’t seem like any big deal to either of us.  It was just who we were.  It also was important.  Not as important as it would become, as we became more strong willed or stubborn, if you will, after nearly 27 years.

People in general, tend to try and show our love and affection for each other in our own love language.  The five love languages being Affection, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation.  That last one is not the same for men as it is for women, so it is misleading.  Then my husband and I went and put that last one in our vows and promised to do so!  Both my husband and I have different love languages.  I know, that’s shocking, right!  He likes quality time.  I like acts of service.  Those can be directly opposing.  It’s hard to do something for someone if you are just sitting there spending time with them.  My little A.D.D. brain feels like I am monopolizing the quality time, which I probably am.  Then I want to show him that I love him by running off and doing something for him; MY love language.  Then I get hurt when he doesn’t reciprocate.  He got hurt because I left while we were having quality time.  You see how this works.

God tried to help.  Both of us have a second love language of Words of Affirmation.  Here is where there’s a wrench in the system.  No one told me that the expression of love that men need is different from that expression needed by women.  I’m a slow learner.  How you show Words of Affirmation to a man is different from how you show Words of Affirmation to a woman.  For years my husband would complain that I didn’t respect him.  I didn’t understand.  There it was in our vows all along.  God tried to help me.  I just wasn’t paying attention.  Neither was my husband because that whole cherish thing had been borderline at times too.  Not paying attention, that’s normal for me, but a little surprising for my husband.  He usually misses nothing!

Here is my new truth.  I wish I had learned this years ago.  Men need words of affirmation that include respect.  Ephesians 5:33 says “let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  Telling a man that you love him, cherish him or adore him is like the wind.  He doesn’t hear it.  He thinks, “Of course you do we are married!”  What he needs to hear is words of respect.  Those words he craves and his soul needs for growth and strength.  Instead tell your husband, “I’m proud of you.” “I admire that.” “I respect that.” “Thank you.” Also you should throw in those occasional “You’re hot” (especially after all these years, he needs to know he’s still hot) and “What a stud muffin you are.”  Those are the language that men, my husband included, craves.  He wants me to see his accomplishments and to be proud and grateful for all his efforts.

I said I would in our vows 27 years ago.  He needs that to be his full self as God created him to be.

Here is the rub, to support him fully, I need him to cherish me like I am fine china, beautiful but fragile.  It’s hard sometimes to be respectful and admiring when I have been treated like paper plates or everyday wear that’s chipped and stained.  When he starts noticing my appearance and not my heart or who I am inside then I get chipped a little more, because I am fragile.  I am just like fine china, I chip and crack easily.  Those chips and cracks do not repair well, it may take years to heal.

But when he does treat me like fine china and care for me, then it is easy to respect and natural to reciprocate.  What a terrible Catch-22.  When we are careful to go back to our vows, others outside of our marriage always notice how well we are getting along.  It only took me 25 years or so to figure it out!  I’m a slow learner.  I can still be stubborn.  If you haven’t been told the secret, I hope I saved you 25 years!

Guys if you want her to care about her appearance, cherish her.  Cherish the person she is inside.  Love her with all that you have like she is fine china, fragile and precious.  She will respond and before you know it, you really won’t care about the outside, but maybe she will.  1 Peter 3:3 says “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by submitting to their own husbands.”

Girls respect him, even if sometimes he doesn’t earn it.  God told you to do so.  He will become the leader of your home that you are looking for.  Even if that isn’t his love language, he still needs those words of affirmation as well.  His soul needs it.

It’s just a truth, like women all need to be cherished.  Marriage makes us stronger, better when done the way God intended.  That’s why we say vows before Him.  That’s why we ask Him for his blessing on our union.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

 

Media by @agphotographysd

 

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