It’s a well-known truism that if something isn’t “broke”–like a car or something you depend on–you don’t mess with it. “Mess with it” meaning attempting to fix it. Which really means “making it better.” Because what’s the point? The argument is that if something is working properly, even if it’s not especially cool or “new,” it still works…so monkeying around with it could go badly.
It’s not a bad principle. Until it breaks.
In our society, even post- “Great Recession” (assuming you believe the premise that we are, in fact, “post”), we’ve become accustomed to just throwing things away when they are broken. Which is odd, since people post-Depression rarely threw anything away, even when it was broken. They’d fix it.
The Banker’s Light Fiasco
Many years ago I worked in a small, 3rd generation office supply store. The prices were a bit higher than the big box stores we’re used to now, but they had great service and many products you simply couldn’t get elsewhere. Like the banker’s light you see above. It’s mine. I’ve owned it almost 20 years. So, when the irresistible force of something that had been hanging in my office decided to let go, the lamp became the immovable object that stopped it. Until it couldn’t.
Looking at the collected remains, and tentatively putting a few together–like a nightmare jigsaw puzzle, I decided it was worth fixing. What you see is the result. Super-glue to the rescue! Where the bits of glass were too far gone to redeem, I filled in the void with clear caulking.
Viola! Good as new…and it looks cooler, too.
Come on! You know it looks gnarly and you want one now. Word of advice: make stuff “broke” carefully…
Go For “Broke”
OK, so I fixed a busted lamp. Is there a metaphor here? Indeed, there is.
When a relationship looks like the lamp, what does our culture advocate? Dump it. Dump the loser. It’s broke. Get a new one. Move on and let go. That viewpoint is everywhere in social media. This comes from a Facebook post of a friend:
Keep people in your life that truly love you, motivate you, encourage you, inspire you, enhance you and make you happy. If you have people who do none of the above, let them go.
Am I so naive as to think that all relationships must be continued, even when toxic? Of course not. But here’s the rub. Where do you see toxic in the maxim above? Doesn’t the manifesto strike you as, at least, a little too egocentric? More to the point, who really just discovers one day that they have relationships with people who aren’t like this? Wouldn’t that say more about their own motivations?
5 Steps to More Satisfaction in Life
Lose the sense of royal disdain. Just because someone in your life doesn’t fulfill Your Highness’s needs all the time, show some royal grace. You might be the grump someday. It could happen.
Get your vision checked. Rather than going through your day like Mr. Magoo, see whose life you can bring love, motivation, encouragement and inspiration to. Let them be in charge of their own happiness.
Own your own. Look after your own happiness. Really. We need others, yes. But not to the extent we dump them when they fail to meet our lengthy list of expectations.
Seek out discomfort. Have you ever learned something, been enhanced or motivated…by someone that just rubbed you wrong? Thought so.
Seize the day. When relationships are less than satisfying, try fixing them first. Work at it. Consume and discard people at your own risk. One day, you might be the one “let go.”
Engage here. What are your thoughts? Agree? Strongly disagree? For more steps to living a satisfied life, click here.
Tears poured down my face as I wrote out the words to this song. I sang Hand of Heaven probably a hundred times before I could get all the way through without crying.
The three years following my retirement from Youth Ministry ended up being one of the most lonely and painful periods in my life. After 7 years of working so hard at my career I realized that all the relationships I had were tied to that church. (When you retire from a church staff position it is proper to leave that church. This helps the congregation adjust to the new person. It also gives the new person some breathing room without the old guard watching over their shoulder. I have seen the dysfunction that takes place when pastors don’t leave their congregation and isn’t very pretty.)
So we left. It was like starting all over again, accept we were living in the same home.
For those three years I found myself in a friendship drought. If it hadn’t been for a very small number of people in my life and songwriting, life would have been so much harder than it already was. The depression due to the extreme chronic pain in my hands made regular life even more difficult.
When Jessica was in first grade, Joel was offered a promotion and a move to Boise. We had been in Yakima 10 years; we were ready for a new adventure!
Joel moved 7 weeks before we did. So for 7 weeks I prayed that God would prepare some special ladies to become my friends. I also prayed that He would prepare my heart to be a good friend to these new ladies. Frankly, I was feeling pretty rusty at friendships by that point. I had come to believe that I was a pretty boring person who was no fun to be around.
In the Hand…Heaven
Well, God pulled through and multi-blessed me with friendships. It was during that time I discovered a bunch of ladies who for some odd reason loved me to pieces and thoroughly enjoyed my company. I had never experienced so much love from so many ladies at one time in my life ever!! Their love really set me free from feelings from the past. It also empowered me to open up and reach out to others. All this became very helpful both in boosting my self-confidence and encouraging my music along.
Of course, as time has gone by some friends have moved and others our paths just don’t cross anymore. I seem to be in another drought but I have confidence that I will get through this. When I desperately needed to know I was lovable, God blessed me a rainstorm! So I am just preparing for rain once again.
I can’t thank God enough for pouring down on me so much love in the past!! He provided a hand of heaven. I can’t wait to see what God comes up with next. He has already started the process of ending the drought with one new girlfriend. Yeah!
Have you ever experienced a friendship drought? Are you there now?
Express your thoughts here…. If you know of someone who is going through a friendship drought, give them a little TLC and then encourage them to read this blog. Knowing that you are not alone in the experience can make a big difference!
In Washington State you cannot get your driver’s license until you are 16 years old. I think this is a very good rule and always will. Why? Let me tell you a story…
Shannon was a nice friend to have at church. She added a lot of joy to the singing quartet I led when we were in high school. She always invited me to youth group and encouraged me to hang out with her and her friends. And she made me feel wanted, cared about, like one of the gang.
Shannon was a social butterfly, very comfortable around boys, laughing, joking etc. She taught me a lot about being a teenage girl, kicking back with gal pals, and flirting with the guys. She was a fun, popular, and genuinely a nice person.
In the Spring of ’85 (yes, a long time ago), she invited me and my dear friend, Katie, to go to a Michael W. Smith concert. I’d never gone to a concert before. I was so excited! That night we laughed, sang, linked arms, and swayed to the music. I had never had so much fun with gal pals ever! In spite of the fact I couldn’t hear worth a darn afterward, it was awesome!
Some Milestones Are Better Than Others
No sooner had this whole new world of fun and frolicking opened up to me when, “BAM!,” I was overcome by complete devastation. Some milestones aren’t welcome.
Shannon died. She was in a car accident the night before we were to sing some special songs at church. We were all crushed. How could this be, God?! She’s just a kid! Everyone loved Shannon, so why not take me instead?! Oh, I wrestled with that feeling of guilt and unworthiness most of the summer.
Our quartet stopped singing. We went through a time when we really didn’t even interact with each other. It hurt too much!
Thank God, our mom’s were watching out for us. They helped us pick up the pieces and move forward. It was hard, at first. Shannon’s parents stopped coming to church. This was sad. I felt like if I had just run over to them and hugged them that maybe they would have stayed. I think the reality that even kids can die was so frightening that I was just emotionally frozen for a while.
It’s amazing how some of our greatest losses can have the most incredible impact on the directions of our lives. At church, I was suddenly viewed as a leader in the youth group. I ended up changing my career path from majoring in Music to majoring in Youth Ministry. More milestones.
Little did I know the pain I experienced as a kid would provide me with the tool of compassion.
As the years go buy I think of Shannon often, all the amazing gifts of life she has missed out on because of one mistake in a car. I sing this song and share this story so kids can hear first-hand about the importance of taking driving seriously. No texting, speeding, goofing around…please!! You have so much ahead of you. Don’t miss it! Arrive at all the positive milestones you can.
What has been a significant life-shaping event in your life?
Add to the conversation! We’ll be glad you did. And if you’d like, you can listen to a sample of my song, “Milestones” on iTunes.
Writing this song was a very therapeutic experience for me. It allowed me to express myself when there really was no other way to do it. I had been putting off really looking this pain in the face for close to a year but finally sat down and allowed myself to put on paper words that had been swimming around my head for way too long.
Relationships are complicated. Period. But many things play a part in that, some internal dynamics and some external and sometimes both.
Several years ago, I experienced a time that I believe was caused by both. The end result of an event left me feeling very alone. Up to that point I felt I had found friends that were closer than even family.
However when that event took place several friends just checked out. One person even told me, “Don’t tell me what happened because I don’t want to have to make changes to my life.”
But one friend went out of her way to talk about the issue several times. We then just agreed that things were different but that our relationship would carry on. So we made time to continue our relationship. We moved forward with the understanding that our relationship was one built not on just convenience but commitment.
Her gesture meant the world to me and we are still good friends even though she has since moved away.
I guess one of the pluses with family conflict is that you are permanently connected either by blood or marriage so you often are put in a position of having to, at least internally, revisit why you are in conflict. You have to re-decide if the topic is really that big a deal or not. Sometimes it is a big deal and you have to come up with a creative way to be around that individual as little as possible. But other times you can decide to move past it.
A counselor friend of mine shared with me something insightful. She said that we all have our own Social Skills Toolbox. Some people have more tools inside than others. These tools are normally given to us growing up or even in counseling. We use our tools within our relationships to understand each other and be able to see things from each others perspectives.
However, sometimes relationships come to a crossroads. This happens when one of the parties has tools to deal with the situation that the other doesn’t. The end result being that the one minus the tools disengages from the relationship.
Painful but true.
An interesting thing happened the week after I wrote this song. A second friend of mine contacted me and said, “Hey I want you back in my life.” I couldn’t help notice that I felt ready to move forward.
Spending time writing this song and reflecting on the situation gave me the tools I needed to reach a resolution with that person. The changes in some of my relationships may not be something I will ever understand because the reasons may be much more complicated than I can comprehend now. But who knows…Maybe Someday.
Have you ever had an event impact an important friendship in your life? How did it go? Are you friends now?
This song was written for our God-daughter, Maria, who lives in Norway with her parents, Katie & Kjell Møgster, and three big brothers. Back in 2006, the Møgsters called us from Mali, Africa (during their missionary years) and asked us to be her God-Family. They invited us to meet them in Norway to attend Maria’s baptism. Well, of course, we said “yes!” with great enthusiasm and immediately started the process of obtaining tickets that would eventually have us arrive in Ålesund, Norway.
Now, a baptism is always a special event. But in Norway, it is a HUGE event. Many hours of preparation were put into decorating the house, setting up tables, making centerpieces, organizing name tags, and preparing group games. Oh yes, then there is the never-ending supply of food!
The morning of the baptism was spent preparing for the special baptismal worship service. The worship experience was amazing! I couldn’t understand a word of it, but the rhythm of the liturgy and prayers felt familiar, especially the Lord’s Prayer.
There was only one part of the service that was in English, the part when I got up and sang. The Møgsters had informed me that it is often a tradition for the God-parents to have one of their gifts be a poem or song. So, I happily wrote Maria a song, in the weeks before our Norwegian odyssey. The words of the chorus were projected onto the screen and I invited everyone to sing along during the last time through…which they did, in their conservative Norwegian way of doing things.
After worship, we drove back to Kjell’s mothers home with the family. Immediately, their friends and family started arriving for the festivities. There must have been about 40 people there, each with a name tag showing them where they were going to sit. We heard Norwegian songs, ate Norwegian food, played group games and learned a lot about … Norwegians!! The last visitors (who weren’t going to be sleeping at the house) finally left around 8pm that night. Finally, it was down to just the…15 of us. This included 7 children, 5 of them young elementary school boys!
The whole trip was an amazing adventure. Being immersed in another culture for 2 1/2 weeks gave me a much bigger understanding of our world. My family and I didn’t want to leave!
In June, 2011, during one of our reunions with the Møgsters, here in the States, Maria asked me to sing her song. I happily agreed. Maria was 5 at this time, so I could look her in the eyes as I sang. She would blush and turn away, but soon I found her looking at me again. It was a precious moment. Clearly she felt very special about having her own song.
I am so glad that my song touched Maria’s heart. It clearly made her feel loved and cherished.
Has anyone done something extra special in your life while growing up? Have you ever told them what it meant to you? If not, think about doing that. It would mean a lot to them.