Nobody Wins

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horse cowDear Lindsey,

“Nobody wins an argument,” may be true, but I still have to laugh at the professional soccer players. They look so cool on the field, so suavely athletic,…until that whistle blows and the theatrics begin. Following the referee and screaming at his back, do they really expect him to turn to them and say, “Well, now I see your point; I am glad you argued and brought me to my senses, so I will reverse that call in front of this crowd of hundreds of thousands of spectators, and blow the whistle on the other team instead.” Of course not! But they scream at the ref anyway.

Sibling bickering is a song that plays in the backseat of my car too often. When my younger two were four and five-years-old, they had the “did not!”, “did too!”, “did not!”, “did too!” chorus perfectly memorized for performance any time and any place.

I have often said that children act the way adults would if tact didn’t bridle us with censors.  I guess I can say I prefer the “control-top” version of my mouth, at least when it comes to the aftermath, but I have often had a giggle over the things the kids say…that I wish I could still say…just once in a while.

A few years ago, this was the conversation in the car from my backseat toddlers (age 4 and 5):

English: Cow Pasture Looking towards Cowhills ...

Christine: “Look at ALL those cows!”

J.R.: “Yeah, but look! There’s a horse in the middle.”

Our car sped by the barnyard.

Christine: “There was no horse! They were all cows.”

J.R.: “Yes there was a horse. It was all brown. The cows were black. There was a horse.”

Christine: “No there wasn’t J.R.! They were all cows. Farmers don’t put horses in the same yard with cows!”

J.R.: “Well THAT farmer did, because I SAW A HORSE!”

This continued and even escalated a bit, so I calmly interceded, with those “Mom lyrics” I seem to sing over and over:

“Christine and J.R. please stop the noise pollution. Remember who wins an argument? NOBODY. So just change the topic. We will never know whether there was a horse there or not. Arguing will not convince anyone and only makes it unpleasant for us all. God knows whether there was a horse there or not.”

There was almost thirty-seconds of silence in the car.

Then J.R. broke it and said matter-of-factly, “Yeah. And when I get to heaven I am going to ask God and He is going to tell you it was a horse.”

Haha!

My daughter, Christine (now age 9) is reading Dale Carnegie’s, How to Win Friends and Influence People for her homeschool “business-ownership” class. She came to me today, and explained how she doesn’t understand why anyone would ever need to fight! “All they have to do is agree with the other person and say, ‘sorry.’ Then the other person can’t argue any more. But if you disagree with them, then they will never back down!”

I like her (and Carnegie’s) thoughts. If it were only as easily done as said, there would be a great reduction in noise pollution around the globe! And in the mean time, we can look forward to one day finding out if it was a horse or a cow that we sacrificed in all of our arguments that we dropped. (smile)

God bless,
Terri

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Climb the Ladder

When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of Glory died

My richest gain I count but lost

And pour contempt on all my pride.

I wrote the words to that old hymn from Isaac Watts in my journal, while I fought back internal emotional pain. I WANTED to pour contempt on all my pride, but it kept haunting its possessor.

Then I decided to really try to “survey the wondrous cross” and I went into a little daydream that morning in my quiet time, which I will never forget. It was a daydream that forced surrender of my heart, once again.

In the distance, I saw not one, but three crosses on the hill. A crowd of people surrounded the base. There was noise: people’s voices, but I couldn’t understand what they were saying.

I stared at the center cross as I walked closer, praying that I would stay focused on Him,

3 crosses by Nicole Avereyn

3 crosses by Nicole Avereyn

despite the distractions of this crazy surrounding world. I wanted to “be one” with other people as He was one with God, so that people would know why He came; yet I battled conflict in my heart. I wanted to survey that wondrous cross and leave the conflict behind.

I saw guards, Roman I assume, in costume as the movies had portrayed. Some spectators on the hill were on their knees, in a deep mourning wail. Others were shouting insults toward the cross. Others were simply walking away, not able to “survey” any longer.

I looked at His face. Jesus’ eyes were still open. He looked down on all of the people – the crying, the shouting and even the leaving and I remembered His words, “Forgive them; they know not what they do.”

What wondrous love is this that He could forgive even in agony?

Agony caused by lashes of a whip tied especially for breaking skin on His bare back while authorities held His flesh taut for maximum tearing.

Agony caused by friends, even His closest, who had deserted Him. One betrayed with a kiss, others with their departure or denial.

Agony caused by a crown of thorns forced onto His head to pierce the skin, while they mocked Him as a “king”.

Agony caused by taunting hours before, “If You are so great, why don’t you tell us who hit You?” as they struck his blindfolded face.

I imagined how He must have felt as people sang, “Hosanna!” at His coming to town, so grateful for His arrival; then in contradiction, people screamed, “Crucify Him!” just days later, treating Him like the criminals on the adjacent crosses.

How did He restrain from fighting back?” I wondered when I recalled his accusers bringing Him to Pontius Pilate, telling the lies that He had denounced taxes and that He was undermining the government. (Luke 23) He stayed focused on His message: He was the Son of God. When King Herod tried Him, Jesus never even spoke, as if wrestling with the pig wasn’t worth words. He was at peace with allowing God’s will to be done through Him. “Why can’t I do that?!” I wondered.

Crucifixion, a slow, lingering electric chair of the era was so cruel, so public, so naked. There was no way to “look good” even as the Son of God hanging on that wood. Nails pierced his hands and feet.

Three men died that day at Calvary. One on the cross next to Jesus jeered at Him, while the other, in full belief said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” That is when Jesus told the latter, “I tell you the truth: today you will be with me in paradise.”

I broke out of the dream and thought back onto myself. I could see me saying, “I’m kind of having a bad day here. My emotions are out of control; I’d really like some time on this cross where I don’t have to deal with you people.” Yet Christ had a message to relay: that heaven awaits; and it is waiting for anyone who believes – even in his last hour.

My daydreaming continued, and I found a ladder. I set it next to Jesus’ cross, and began to climb. I wanted to survey the Savior.

The sweat, mixed with blood, poured from His body. I recalled His “sweating blood” during a deep prayer just nights before, though His closest friends’ loyalty faded in sleep. I meditated on even Him, asking His heavenly Father for a change of The Plan, yet what He wanted was that God’s will be done.

The daydream paused as personal thoughts came in: That’s what I want!: God’s will be done. Yet so much conflict, how can it be?

In my daydream, my actions continued, I wanted to get closer, to talk to Jesus as He hung on that cross, looking down on the people. “Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,” came to mind from another verse of the same hymn.

From His view I could see His accusers, and mine too. “He died for them, also,” I was reminded.

I leaned toward Him to whisper, bringing my lips close to His ear and tried to form words. Thoughts flooded my mind:

Jesus, SHE won’t return my phone call!”

“Jesus, I am so jealous that I didn’t get what I wanted.”

“Jesus, I have been WRONGED, and they are going to make me look bad.”

A smile came to my face, in self-laughter. What?! I would NEVER have been able to say that into His ear from atop the ladder! How petty! How selfish! He died for me, can I not live a moment for Him? After climbing that ladder to truly survey the wondrous cross the only thoughts that could come to mind were unsaid, choked back by tears:

“I am SO unworthy of this sacrifice.”

“I am so sorry.”

“Thank you.”

He glanced in my direction as if to answer my unspoken words, “I know. It’s why I came.”

As I snapped out of my daydream, tears flowed as I realized how petty my prayers had been that morning.

He gave His life for me; can’t I live a moment for Him?

When my pride gets in the way: I climb the ladder.

When I feel like I have been wronged: I climb that ladder.

When I am jealous, I climb the ladder.

If I am talking too much about myself, I need to climb that ladder.

If I am feeling perfect enough to start correcting others, I climb the ladder.

If I am more worried about the scrutiny of man than the scrutiny of God, I CLIMB THE LADDER.

Are my thoughts worthy of whispering in His ear from the top of the ladder?

Whisper in His ear about the parents who just lost children this week. He cares.

Pray to Him about the woman lost in the dark world of depression. He’s holding her.

Ask Him in His ear how best to be His testimony in this lost world and He would be relieved to know someone read His Words so they would outlast His agony.

I had “open heart surgery” that morning. I surrendered. His will be done.

He has the whole world in His hands, not my hands, and that is where it needs to stay.

I pray this holiday season that we may be ONE so the world will know that the Lord above sent Jesus Christ as our Savior (John 17:21): He humbled Himself to human birth – in a stable; He submitted to baptism – by another man; He washed filthy feet – of those lesser than He; He died a criminal’s death – alongside heathen, for God’s glory. May we follow His example to true humility; I am above nothing. Peace on earth comes into our hearts when we can rest in God’s will being done.

And if conflict arises, even if only inside of us, may we climb the ladder to rise above the offense, survey the cross, and take time to whisper in His ear, “Thank You.”

Pride/Ego Summary of Symptoms:

Beginning introduction: (Turkey Tastes Better Without Lily Pads.)

Other symptoms (and this list is probably endless):

  • refusing to forgive/bitterness
  • ranking people as more or less valuable than one another
  • talking down about others (close relative to talking about oneself)
  • resisting new information

With love,

Terri Brady

 

Wanna Talk about ME!

Dear Lindsey,

“Will I ever keep my mouth shut?!” I have thought after regretting an argument at an event

English: Northern Mockingbird juveniles at a b...

with friends.  The truth is, the problem was not my mouth, but my heart that was speaking. John Maxwell says pride is the reason for ALL conflict. The Bible says it comes before the fall. Pride develops through the way we view ourselves and will affect the number of relationship conflicts we have this Christmas season, and in life. In these next few letters, I hope to sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron, while we enjoy laughing (or gasping!) at stories of my prideful past, learn to diagnose an ego problem, and get to the HEART of the matter. “Peace on Earth,” begins with pride-under-construction, so let us aim for a Christ-full Christmas leading to Christ-full lives.

Kids say the darndest things! They tell the unmasked truth at times, like when my then 6-yr-old said, “Sometimes I feel like my friends aren’t listening to me. It’s like they are quiet when I talk, but they are only thinking of what they are going to say next.”

Toby Keith’s song makes me smile every time I hear it:  “Wanna talk about me, wanna talk about I, wanna talk about number one, oh my me my!” In the song, he’s talking about a girl he is dating who talks so much about herself, he never gets a chance to say anything.

I really don’t even remember dating Toby Keith, but the song describes me (at least the “old me”) so well! I even had a “gramma down in Alabama!” (the song states).

“Pride” is defined as:  a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements (or children’s achievements or possessions), according to the dictionary. However, a Christian definition may be:  Full of self, and therefore no room in the vessel to be full of God.  Proverbs 11:2 says that with the humble comes wisdom. Too often, we walk around, so “unwise.”

Like a skirt accidentally tucked into nylons, revealing a woman’s undergarments for an entire wedding reception dance, pride is a sin that is evident to all those around, but seemingly hidden from the bearer.  I have heard that “EGO” stands for “Edging God Out,” but when I first was figuring out my own pride problem, I loved God, and really, I figured I loved God more than most did, so I was safe from any ego issues. Ha! There was that pride again.

Pride destroys teams.

Whether it’s a business team, a church team, a marriage or a family, pride is a cancer that will starve the body. However, a problem cannot be solved until it is properly defined, and a prideful person, it seems, cannot see his own sin. “That’s about others, because I don’t feel good about myself,” I can remember thinking EVERY time I heard the word.  This is where the reader is cautioned: we may be talking about YOU and you don’t know it! (Just kidding! We all know we are talking about the ones who would never read this letter!)  All I know is that I am talking about me. As I said in another letter, (Turkey Tastes Better without Lilypads) pride is an addiction from which I am always recovering.

I often hear people say that they have low self-esteem, and not high self-esteem, and so therefore this problem is not applicable to them. Ironically, when I collected the following symptoms of pride, and subsequently compared them to the symptoms of low self-esteem from the book, Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem (Rainey), I couldn’t believe the irony that many of the symptoms were identical.

“How is that possible?!” you may ask. “Aren’t low self-esteem and high self-esteem opposites?”

In the middle of each description is the answer: “self.”

Whether it is “low-self” or “high-self,” when we esteem ourselves as anything other than God-esteemed, we are doomed to live lives of conflict.

That leads me to the first symptom of pride: talking about yourself.

I can change ANY subject back to me, and I used to think it was quite a talent!  Imagine my conversations:

Her: “We moved here from Colorado.”

Me: “I have family in Colorado.”

Her: “My child is really struggling in math.”

Me: “Oh that’s funny; my son is acing math!”

Her: “I had such a rough day today.”

Me: “Oh I know; I hate Mondays.”

Blechhhhh.

I HATE to think of myself having these conversations. How much could the Lord have done through me if instead I had been interested in the others’ words? How the math student’s mom could have been encouraged by words about HER not ME! Maybe the “rough day” was looking for truly caring words: “I’m sorry to hear that! How can I help?” What if the one from Colorado was only wishing for someone to know that she was new to the area?

Pride. It leads to relationship conflict and edges God out.

So what now? What if as we read the symptoms through the next letters, we identify an issue with pride, what next? Don’t despair! God is bigger than the pride boogie man.  Identifying the problem is half of the solution.

Ironically, I feel VERY confident writing about pride but not qualified to write about humility – which is the only solution.  Reading CJ Mahaney’s book Humility: True Greatness gives the reader great perspective.

However, for this first symptom (talking too much about oneself) the practical answer is obvious:

  1. Talk less about yourself. Some will read this and think I am saying that we should NEVER talk about ourselves; however, it is truly a matter of the heart. Are we listening to others? Are we caring about others? Or are we pushing opinions, experiences and ourselves on others, trying to uplift ourselves?
  2. Pray. Well …maybe that should have been #1. Since pride seems to be the king of invisible sins (Invisible only to the beholder, visible to all others…), we must ask God to open our eyes to where we are blind.
  3. Think more of others than of yourself.  C. S. Lewis said, “true humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” -C.S. Lewis

My husband says that a man doesn’t marry a woman for her body, her brains, or any other of “her” self. He says he marries her because of how she makes him feel.  It is the same in business relationships, friendships and marriages alike: In relationships, our goal should NOT then be to make others think highly of us, but our goal should be to make them think highly of themselves, or better yet, think highly of our God when they are around us.

The most important commandment is to “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul and mind; and the second one is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” Matt 22:37-40.  To truly love God, we will love His people. We will care about them, and listen to them.

May we use our ears twice as much as our mouths today!

“Let every man be swift to hear and slow to speak.” –James 1:19

God bless,
Terri Brady

Recommended reading: Building Your Mate’s Self-Esteem by Dennis Rainey

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