We own a family business and the lines between business and family often become blurred. It’s not always easy to remember which hat we are wearing at work; father/employer, hatchery assistant/wife, farm hand/son. We have had a few trying days … Continue reading
Have you ever experienced the pain of a failed relationship? Walking through each day numb, until a tidal wave of hope or rage or fear hits and sends you to bed, shivering, crying, and staring into space in terror. It feels like your heart has been ripped from your chest and put through a meat grinder.
If you have experienced a failed or failing relationship of any kind (marriage, dating, parent/child, friendship, job loss, neighbours at war, church splits or issues in a community), I have great news for you today. There is a framework for successful relationships. Although relationships can be difficult, they do not need to be doomed to failure. We can do the work of love that makes them enriching and abundant sources of joy and delight.
Not like a Disney movie where everything ends in happily-ever-after. We dream of fairy tale endings but they aren’t real. Real life relationships and a life worth living requires work and decisions and heart changes. It produces joy and real joy has nothing to do with the butterfly feelings we call love. Joy is the settled assurance, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice of gratitude in every situation.
I have made a mucky mess of most of my relationships: love found and lost; friends who disappeared for no apparent reason; family holidays that ended in disastrous feuding; jobs that ended long before reaching a successful tenure, and an ugly divorce. All leaving me with the burning question, “What is it about me that they could not like or love?”
In still, quiet moments truths emerged that were hard to face. Yet, changes were necessary if I were to gain any hope of finding lasting relationships. Changes that needed to be made from the inside out.
I want to share 10 elements I found within the 10 Commandments that can change, heal or mend struggling relationships even if you are not a religious person.
Have you heard the story of the 10 Commandments? I remember watching Charlton Heston as Moses in the movie produced in the 50’s? (You can actually watch it on YouTube if you are interested. Just click on the link.).
This may seem like a strange place to look for relationship advice. Instead of looking at the 10 commandments as a list of rules, I’ll ask you to give me a few minutes where you consider the principles behind the list.
My hope is that you will find some practical ways to enhance your quality of life starting immediately.
The 10 commandments state:
1. You shall have no other gods before me.
The first element of long lasting relationships is the decision and commitment. Commitment is the glue that binds long term relationships together. Therefore, before committing to a relationship careful consideration should be given. Commitment is not contractual. Contracts provide escape when things do not go as planned, do not go our way or when they become uncomfortable. Commitment actively works to find solutions, makes necessary changes to one’s behaviours and does not quit when things become difficult. Contracts encourage an attitude that “nothing lasts forever”. Commitment demands an attitude that never gives up. You will have to burn some bridges: your will might have to die, you can’t have your way all of the time, you will have to forgive, and you have to let past things go. You must be committed to your commitment more than you are to selfish behaviours. And sometimes that can feel like you’re dying. 😜
2. Do not make for yourselves any graven images.
The second element of long lasting relationships is to not do relationships by substitution. There can be a tendency to substitute giving things instead giving ourselves especially when things are hard or difficult. You can not work long hours and provide a house, car, or vacation as a substitute for coming home and working through the big issues of life. Strong relationships require that you show up and be present. Do life face to face and in person.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Did you know that when you love someone, the way you say their name is different? Just saying. The third element of long lasting relationships is communication. You can build a strong relationship with the words that come out of your mouth. You can also destroy a relationship with the words that come out of your mouth. Counsellors will tell you that one of the top reasons that relationships fail is due to poor communication. All of us are vulnerable. We want to be loved, accepted and valued. There is a dangerous pathway that you can travel when it comes to communication. The first step is criticism. You can read more about the criticism pathway by clicking the link. It is so important to speak kind words that allow hearts to grow close together.
4. Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
The fourth element in long lasting relationships is time. In a busy world we often refer to quantity and quality time. In order for quality time to emerge, there must be an adequate amount of time provided. You can’t just make memorable moments happen. In the process of time spent together, the special moments appear. Invest time in your relationship and watch it flourish. Schedule time that is non-negotiable. Commit to show up and be fully present without distractions.
5. Honor your father and mother that your days may be long in the land.
The fifth element of lasting relationships is honour. There is an element of humility and respect involved in honour. When I think of honouring my country, I realise that I did not gain the freedoms I enjoy by my efforts alone. The same is true in relationship. Honour in relationship is a statement that you can not do this alone and respects the other person’s contribution as well as your own. The best way to cultivate honour is with gratitude and forgiving. Acknowledge the good and forgive what didn’t work out so well -striving to improve along the way.
6. You shall not murder.
Murder definitely would have a detrimental effect on your relationship. The sixth element of lasting relationships has to do with how you handle anger. You have to create an environment of peace. Yelling and throwing fits do not accomplish closeness. Learn to speak like a human-being with kindness and grace. And…learn to listen to the response. Do not hold on to your anger…in fact, before the day is finished work to deal with angry emotions so that they do not fester into infectious behaviours. Create a peaceful atmosphere and you will build a lasting relationship.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
Adultery is another relationship killer. Seriously. However, the seventh element of lasting relationships is self-control. The issue here is lust. Oddly enough, lust does not only relate to sex. Excessive indulgences feed lust and often are displayed in addictive behaviours. Lust drives you for more and more and more -it is insatiable. Lust will cause you to become discontent and dissatisfied with what you have. Self-control is an essential element to behaving appropriately in relationships.
8. You shall not steal.
The eighth element of lasting relationships is trust. You can not build a strong relationship with someone that you can not trust. Period. Trust lost is very difficult to restore. It is imperative to be trustworthy.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour (lying)
The ninth element of lasting relationships is honesty. Respect people’s reputation especially those that you desire to build a permanent relationship with. Guard their reputation as your own. Always be honest and truthful.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s “stuff” (paraphrasing there a little.)
The final element of lasting relationships is contentment. You know the old saying that “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence?” the truth is “the grass is greener where you water it”. I’m not sure where that originated but it is wisdom. There will always be something or someone sunnier, shinier, prettier, or offering more benefits on the surface. Finding contentment requires that you take good care of what you have been given and cherish it with all of your heart. Work through the difficult times and build together something what can unfold into something great.
These 10 elements can be applied to any level of relationship that you desire to remain permanent; marriage, family, friendship, business, career/job, community, church and yes, even a relationship with God. Make a careful decision and commit to it with every fibre of your being. Show up and deal with the big issues of life face to face. Communicate gently and effectively. Invest time so that special moments emerge. Cultivate an attitude of honour with gratitude and forgiving often. Deal with you anger in a healthy way and don’t hold onto things. Exercise self-control over the drive for more and more. Be trustworthy. Be honest. And finally take good care of what you have been given so that you have the opportunity to enjoy your relationship for a lifetime.
I would like to add one caution: we all know that no one person can make a relationship work on his/her own. Not even God could do that in His desire for a relationship with us. You can hear the pain in His voice through Jeremiah in Jeremiah chapter 2. It takes two committed people or a group of committed people (in families, business, churches, and communities) working through the big issues with honest effort to see great relationships as a result. In cases where abusive behaviours have emerged, always, always seek safety and help from a trained professional.
Many times (excluding abusive relationships) making changes to your behaviours, as I have mentioned in this article, can provide the first steps to getting your relationship back on track, keep it healthy or restore broken relationship. It can also help remove the charged atmosphere that ignites tension and stress.
Do you think these would work in your relationships?
tears welled up in my eyes and i did my best not to burst into tears; i was both thrilled and relieved. i might add, i was also proud of my daughter.
as a mother, my heart aches when my children struggle in painful situations. it’s even worse, when there is nothing i can do that seems to make a real difference.
however, there was an incredible outcome this time…
let me take you back to the beginning.
my grandson is such a loving little man. my daughter was a single mom for most of his first fives years and for his age, he was quite emotionally sensitive and gentle. several times a day, he would stop, look at his mother and say, “mum, you’re so beautiful.” when he turned five and started school, he often shared similar compliments with his new teacher.
as well, he is bright and learns quickly. he began attending school in the middle of the year and easily caught up to the expected academic learning levels.
the change we began to notice was not only in the change of schools…our little man was changing, too.
first, my daughter noticed that he began eating non-food items. she tried everything she could think of: distract, change diet, add vitamins and iron, and visits to the doctor for professional advice. nothing was working. she googled what she was witnessing and found that the condition was called pica. he began to have serious health issues.
she felt helpless and i felt helpless as well.
the eating disorder was not the only change we noticed. he was often unsettled and easily agitated. this was not normal. at all.
we looked at things at home that may be contributing. we wanted to ensure that he was only involved in age appropriate games, TV, and activities. we looked at possible stress points. we were coming up with nothing.
when we talked to him about his days at school, he would mention what sounded like a bit of play ground bullying. so, we turned to the school. they had nothing to report. the school year was ending so we hoped a summer break and a new school year might help bring a solution. summer went well…he was more settled and we were hopeful.
this year was his third year of school and things were not better-they were going from bad to worse? my daughter began nursing school and her schedule became quite busy and stressful. the school began to call with reports of aggressive behaviour. what? we could not fathom what was happening.
the calls continued to come in from the teacher and my daughter was becoming more and more desperate. we arranged support meetings with the teacher, the assist principal and finally, the principal.
he continued to tell us stories that truly sounded like bullying.
the calls continued to come in. his teacher often explained that his aggressive behaviour seemed to be a result of other children “winding him up” as if he were retaliating. yet, when asked, there did not seem to be any support for him in preventing the “winding up”.
i volunteered to become a substitute (grand)parent aid since my daughter’s time was fully committed with her studies. i noticed an overwhelmed first year teacher, i noticed aggressive playground confrontations, and many situations where adult support was missing when it was much needed. we continued to schedule meetings with school staff attempting to resolve the situation. nothing…at all…was working.
my heart ached for my daughter and i began to feel concern for my grandson. this was not our little boy…he was becoming unhealthy, he was not our happy care-free child and he was becoming reserved and frustrated.
one day while on the playground with him, he pointed to a hedge at the back of the school and told me, “deedee, i used to hide in there during recess but they cut it down.” i was stunned, “jake, why did you hide in the hedge?” “because i’m afraid.”
i wanted to cry.
instead, we attempted to find support from the staff.
sadly, it was becoming clearer that the environment was not safe for him.
she withdrew him from the school at the end of the term and transferred him back to his old school.
the change of environment is beginning to make a huge difference.
the principal has placed him in a classroom with a male teacher…which he loves. already, we can tell that his teacher understands how little boys think and learn…brilliant.
his smile and gentle demeanour are back. the pica disorder is hardly noticeable (and i expect it to cease altogether). most importantly, he is less stressed and safe.
what a relief…it may not solve all the issues we were facing but we are off to great start.
children are vulnerable and often find it difficult to communicate how they need help.
here are 6 ways to support children when they face difficult situations:
1. trust your instinct. you know your child better than anyone in the world. if things don’t add up, take action.
2. listen and believe them. although children can get facts wrong sometimes, it’s important to listen carefully. they will give you clues to the fact that there is a problem even if they don’t understand what the problem is. the clues are there: change in behaviour, frustration levels,
emotions and personality. you will find they will attempt to verbalize to the best of their ability, listen.
3. be involved. you will know, instinctively, if you are dealing with a situation that the child needs to work through him/herself. however, if he/she begins to struggle-be involved. sometimes, they just need to know there is back up support. sometimes, they need intervention.
4. be fearless to make the difficult decisions. give yourself the benefit of the doubt. there might be difficult decisions to make to ensure their well-being…make them.
5. ask for help and support. don’t be afraid to reach out for support. we all need help/support from time to time and that is what family and community are about. reach out!
6. don’t give up…no matter how long it takes to resolve. there were times when we were at our wits end. times, when we doubted what we did know, our instincts and decisions. however, my daughter didn’t give up. she started and stayed with it until she was able to narrow the issues down even to make an informed decision. it was stressful. it was difficult to get people to listen. we cried together but we DID NOT stop.
so, the day that my daughter called with good news…we celebrated!
we were grateful…all was well again.
do you have any tips to share about helping children through difficult situations? i would love to hear them. please share them in a comment below.
oh, and give your sweet babies a hug…that’s always a great place to start.
see you next time,
while i was away, i had the chance to play with my camera a bit. i found photographing things to be much easier than people…it’s amazing how camera shy i found my family to be. of course, the fact that i love snapping as many photos as possible doesn’t help my cause much.
i spent a week in my hometown of Chattanooga, Tn. the downtown area is so artsy and beautiful. although i was only able to spend a day downtown, it was satisfying to be standing in the midst of a place i dearly love.
my baby boy graduated high school in May and i wasn’t about too miss it! not that i need one, but it was a great excuse for a vacation.he accepted a football scholarship to Tusculum College in Tennessee and begins his studies in the fall.i am such a proud momma! i think he was pretty proud of himself as well!graduation was the first stop on my trip followed by awesome time with friends and family…
no trip home is complete without a few stops at my favourite places to eat….like Krispy Kreme donuts! i did feel bad because it is one of my daughter’s favourite places to stop (and she wasn’t with me…she was stuck back in NZ attending school) but as i’m sure she will testify to the fact that, i didn’t feel bad enough because i didn’t resist the temptation. on my last night in Chatt town…i had to make a late night run for some “now hot” donuts. oh, yum! as i’m shivering away in my office in the middle of the NZ winter, i’m thinking they would be soooo good about now!
my sister works for Supervalu in Atlanta. Supervalu was a sponsor for the local Special Olympics. my family was honoured to volunteer for the day. the gymnastics athletes did a fantastic job and were so proud of their accomplishments. we were proof for them as well. thank you to Supervalu for letting us participate in such an amazing day.
driving around Atlanta left me a little edgy at times after driving for so many years on the left hand side of the road; however, i was itching for someone to trust behind the wheel of their car. sadly, most of them were too scared! my husband thinks they were wise to be.
and we took a trip to Stone Mountain for an evening laser show. it is a must see if you are ever in the Atlanta area. i didn’t do a lot of shopping this time but Target and Walmart are always on the agenda! Target just makes me happy and i wouldn’t dare return to NZ with empty hands as there would be sad faces awaiting me…and we don’t want see sad faces! needless to say, i did not protest about having to go shopping.
the biggest “must” have on my vacation bucket list was watermelon and American pickles. 13 watermelon and 3.5 gallons of pickles to be exact. i know! shameful. no matter, it had to be done and i must say, i put a pretty good dent in that goal although, family and friends did help me, after all, i didn’t want to be too much of a glutton. i was close, though!
saying good bye was tough.
i miss everyone already.
i am very thankful for the time to spend giving real hugs and kisses instead of cyber ones, talking all day and night and sharing heartfelt moments.
i’m already planning my next trip…five years was far too much time away…
do you have a vacation planned in the near future? i’d love to hear how you plan to spend your time relaxing. so share your plans with me below in the comments.
here’s to great trips with family and friends!
see you soon!
It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. ~W.T. Ellis
I can hardly believe another year has nearly gone by. It just seems like yesterday that we were gathering the family together around the Christmas tree. Yet, Thanksgiving is behind us (I hope that you had a great Thanksgiving. Mine was lovely), my Christmas decorations are up and I have heaps of shopping yet to do. Honestly, I promise myself every year that I will get a jump on my Christmas shopping …but this is one area that I do not over organize.
Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love Christmas movies, Christmas music and the hustle bustle of shoppers. I enjoy sitting with the Christmas tree lit and my cup of spiced tea in hand…even though it’s not usually dark enough in NZ until well after 10 pm.
I hope that you and your family will have the loveliest of holidays this season.
It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air. Mr. Ellis had that so right.
So, don’t stress. Relax. Enjoy. Celebrate.
Do you have a family Christmas tradition that makes the holiday special in your heart? I’d love to hear about it if you wouldn’t mind sharing it with me and my readers.
My daughter and I like to spend Christmas Eve together in our new Christmas PJs and watch White Christmas.
It is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas in my heart…how about yours?
i do a lot of talking most of the time…in person and here on my blog.
tonight…i’m asking a question. what do you think a family consists of? how does your family, culture or country perceive family?
i have to say, “i’m gob-smacked tonight.”
i could not conceive in my mind that there might be a difference in interpretation when one speaks of family. yet tonight i called my step son’s maternal uncle his family and i was corrected and told he wasn’t family. really?
in my family, we ARE all family…aunts, uncles, cuzzies, in-laws, as well as my immediate family.
how does family work in your life? is it different than mine?
is your immediate family all that you count as family?
can you help me out here?
there is a difference in hurt and broken. your dream after loss, pain and hurt might look different; you might have to find another way…but you do not have to remain in a painful state and quit.
the year following my accident where my fiancé was killed, my sister and her family were in a terrible crash. this crash was not fatal but as a result, our family was thrown into the midst of tragedy once again. my nephew was a baby then but survived the accident with few injuries. my brother-in-law received broken bones but recovered fully. my sister sustained a major spinal cord injury. i will never forget walking into that hospital and seeing her lying there with the halo collar along with her other visible injuries. i nearly passed out.
i don’t even remember when the news came that she would never walk again.
there are four children in our family. all of us have very different personalities. my sister was always on the go. she was the life of the party and always had friends everywhere. she could light up a room. she seemed to always be laughing. she was adventurous. in her teenage years, she worked 2-3 jobs. i would say she was a go-getter. her dream was to be a mother. i don’t remember how many children she wanted but she wanted children to nurture and pour herself into. motherhood.
we were sitting in a hospital with the doctors telling us that she was a quadriplegic which means no movement from the neck down. devastating news. although we did not understand fully what that meant, we and she thought that her dream of more children was over. there were months of rehabilitation that followed. the doctors expected, as a part of the grieving process, for depression to set in. yet, this young woman worked and fought through many difficult days and tears to recover as much as she possibly could. the doctors were amazed that she began to grip with one hand and had limited motion in the other. it seems like a small thing but for her it meant that some simple tasks like brushing her hair, brushing her teeth and eventually some vacuuming the floor could be tasks she could continue to do. she later had a van customized and is able to drive.
she was learning to re-enter her life using her zest for life and strong desire to live as fully as was possible for her. she was amazing! she still is!
then she sprung it on me. she had exciting news. i remember the grin on her face. it was like a sun beam. it seemed to light her entire being. she was pregnant. WHAT? i was stunned. how? what? when? you know, all the questions that seem to surface when you think that a dream is over but suddenly realize…it’s not. the rehabilitation center and the doctors had a plan. it was amazing.
nine months later, my niece was born. two weeks prior to my sister’s due date, she had a C-section and was holding this precious, beautiful baby girl. she needed help with day to day care for herself and the baby but her dream of motherhood was not dead…it was just different.
there have been many struggles along the way. it has not been an easy road. however, her commitment to her dream caused her to fight, work harder, face challenges (that i might not have had the will for), to love, to feel and to live so that she could fulfil what was strong in her heart.
i used to laugh, when her two children were little and needed to be disciplined, she would say to them, “come over here” and they would trot right over knowing that momma was going to be administering punishment.
she had to heal physically, she had to come to terms with the changes in her life, she had to keep fighting through the difficult days, she had to keep her focus, she has to live each day one at a time never giving up, and develop new steps when they are required for wholeness. some of these things she must revisit on a daily basis. there are still physical healings that she must strive for. there will be emotional healings that must occur. there will also be seemingly overwhelming life directions that will become necessary for wholeness to be maintained.
there are varying degrees of pain. absolutely. what we individually have gone through brings as much pain in it’s way as the next person’s pain does in their life. however, we can gain inspiration from the victories others have achieved.
my sister has overcome many obstacles and has more to overcome. she inspires me that no matter how much pain i am in at the moment, i am not broken and i can keep looking for new ways to thrive and live a full life – full of my dream of happiness. you can as well.
just because you’re hurt doesn’t mean you are broken.
“Words of wisdom” is what i am titling this photo…because when we see this expression from across the room…we know the wisdom is flowing.
the heart of faith won the battle (from yesterday’s post). thankfully, i was able to get the mind’s fear quiet enough for faith to do its work.
my dad proved once again that he is a fighter…and the surgeons did a great job…the surgery went well and he is recovering quite nicely.
i guess, he has a bit more wisdom that we need to hear.
i am happy about that.
i’m lying here with sleep evading me. visions of my life with my daddy passing through the halls of my mind.
my heart and my mind battling between faith and fear.
i wrote not many days back that life brings sudden changes and that a wise life plan includes a trauma plan. i have many yet from time to time I come face to face with the reminder that i’m not as prepared as i imagined.
today is one of those days.
i called to wish my daddy well as he prepared for heart surgery. the prep work was complete. great! except, my heart had not really conceived an idea close to the prep my daddy had put into place. my contemplations had included well prepared surgeons, physical checks, accommodations, travel and the like. simple little details to check from a well prepared list. everything in order & well organised is a normal expectation from this meticulously detailed man.
i am 10,000 miles away. i expected to feel a tinge of home sickness as this day approached. i was right about that.
the further preparations, that stunned my heart today, were the “good byes”. the “i’m proud to have been your daddy”. what? wait! no, hang on a minute…
i am a strong believer in faith, staying positive, believing it all goes well…and i’m accustomed to encouraging others to cling to the hopeful side of situations.
although my dad is ageing, i really have not prepared myself for “good-byes”. after all, remember my heart still thinks it’s 18 years old; therefore, it’s not entertaining the reality of my daddy’s age and the need for good-byes.
the stark truth – that his preparations included coming to grips with a risky procedure that might go wrong – placed my heart face to face with a possibility of loss.
i have been scrambling through my mental trauma plan file. i have thought through many types of losses; job loss, relationship loss, business loss, loss of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and fiancé…but nothing that involved my parents.
i learned, after my fiancé’s death, the importance of not shutting someone down when they speak of death-Craig actually had a dream about the car accident two weeks prior to its occurrence with accurate details.
so, while i was unwilling to accept that i was having a final conversation today, we exchanged tender moments, words and tears.
i choose to hold tightly tonight to my faith and believe – for wisdom and a steady hand for the surgeon. i fully expect to hear that my dad came through with flying colours.
i know that loss is one of the deepest wounds we experience. the process of grief is painful. loss of a career, health, relationship, reputation and of loved ones can all trigger changes to life that are painful adjustments.
maybe, we’ll look at walking toward emotional healing after loss in the near future. after i’ve had some sleep and my daddy is recovering well.
for tonight, i’m urging my heart’s faith to win the battle over my mind’s fear by remaining positive…whispering a prayer…remembering that my daddy (& momma) taught me by example to have courage, never give up & trust that there is always a Divine plan. things will work out just as they should.
life is a journey. today, i felt a little shaky in my steps but i’m still walking. there are days like these…but there is also a promise that…
Joy comes in the morning!
stay strong. be encouraged. never give up!!
thanks for sharing a few moments of your day!