Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

I don’t want to sing a solo.

This post was originally published on March 9, 2011.  I was reminded of it yesterday.

Went to bed thinking about the elements of an atmosphere conducive to worship.

Woke up thinking about what I can do to help a congregation experience deep worship and praise.


Something’s been on my mind. While rehearsing a song for praise team, someone referred to it as a “solo.”

solo.

Oxford defines “solo” as:

noun – a piece of music, song, or dance for one performer
adjectivefor or done by one person

solo.

It’s been nagging at me.

From the depth of everything I am, that’s the last thing I want to do on Sunday morning when I sing with the praise team.

team.

I always call it that. Not praise band or worship band, but praise team. Sometimes worship team.

Oxford defines “team” as:

noun – two or more people working together.
verbcome together as a team to achieve a common goal.

That’s the way I think about it. We’re a team. We have a team leader, and it ain’t me. I follow the direction of our worship leader and when it comes to serving with him on the team, I trust his judgment, respect his decisions and sing harmony when he’s singing melody. Even so, sometimes I sing the lead on a song. Doesn’t make me the team leader, just means I’m singing the melody on a particular song.

When that happens, I refer to it as leading a song.

I’ve never referred to it as singing a solo.

Oxford defines “lead” this way:

verbcause (a person or animal) to go with one, especially by drawing them along or by preceding them to a destination.
noun – the initiative in an action: others followed our lead.

Some might say I’m splitting hairs; that it’s just a subtle difference in terminology, a tomato/tomahto kind of thing.

I view it as a HUGE difference, especially as it relates to my attitude and motivation. When I’m leading a song, my primary goal is to lead the congregation in worship. I want to facilitate a shift from the distractions and overwhelming challenges of every day life to a focus on the hope and peace and joy of worshiping God. My primary goal every Sunday morning is to bring each individual person in the congregation with me as I focus my heart and mind on worship. My consistent prayer is that the Lord would bless my service and help me to reach that goal for Him.

solo.

The word is still nagging at me.

I don’t want to sing a solo.

April 26, 2012 Posted by | christian living, music, pragmatic communion, praise team music, prayer | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Discovery Day” is right.

FirstHusband and FavoriteSon went to a college “Discovery Day” on Saturday, inspecting a potential choice for FavoriteSon.

I think it just hit me that, if he goes away to college as a freshman, his sister will only be in 7th grade when he goes.

That hadn’t even crossed my mind.

We would miss him like crazy, but his sister? Serious, serious, serious sadness. The loss of that daily interaction between them would be so hard for her. They may fight sometimes, but they really love each other.

Anyone have that experience themselves as a child? Have an older sibling move away to college?
How old were you? How did it change your daily life? How do you think the presence an older brother or sister in your daily life would have changed your remaining years living at home?

April 25, 2012 Posted by | family, pragmatic commotion, status updates | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Jesus said turn the other cheek. He didn’t say I had to stand within smack radius.

“so, have you spoken to them about their behavior?”

That was the question I was asked after publishing my post entitled “you see the big hat too . . . right?

(For those who don’t have time to read that post, here’s the twitter version: “passive-aggressive narcissist. boundaries, distance & prayer. attempted normal relationship. failed. back to boundaries, distance & prayer.”)

Back to the question – Have I spoken to this person about their behavior?

The person asking me the question is someone I respect. They deserve an answer with a reason. So here goes.

As Christians, we tend to think God wants us to reek of Ephesians 4 and live in “Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ.” My concern, the reason I’m still writing about my response to passive-aggressive behavior, is that some Christians interpret “unity in Christ” to mean we should get along with everybody God has placed and/or allowed in our lives. Some Christians believe that “unity in Christ” means that anger is a sin and most importantly, that we should strive to resolve differences when we encounter conflict.

Have I spoken to this person about their behavior? It’s a reasonable question – from a reasonable person. And therein lies the problem. The assumption we want to make is that everyone is, at least for a few minutes of every day, reasonable.

What a beautiful theory.

In reality, it’s more like this:

(oh, chill out. It’s just a cartoon. God loves jerks too.)

To answer the question, Yes. I tried confrontation. I was a communication major. I have a conflict resolution model memorized and am ready to use it at a moment’s notice. So, yes. I did speak with them about their behavior – Before I figured out their standard MO (with everyone, not just me) was passive-aggressive behavior. Specific behaviors were openly addressed and were discontinued, at least temporarily, only to be replaced with a different manifestation of the same root issue. See, passive-aggressive behavior is like a flu strain. It subtly morphs, but is never eradicated. Since the behaviors never stop, the need for attention never ends.

I have years of experience with narcissism and its key characteristic – passive-aggressive behavior. I spent months saturated in research on it. Once I recognized it in this person, I knew exactly what to do. Over and over and over again, the books and documentation suggest that boundaries and distance are the only long lasting solution.

really. I’m not just making this stuff up to avoid confrontation. Remember, I tried confrontation. Confrontation produced temporary results:

“Realize that the narcissist may agree to change the dynamics of the relationship for a short time, to get you off his back,” but will usually revert to what he or she considers “normal.” In the end, the only healthy way to live with a narcissist is to become more of “your own person” and to create a space between you and the narcissist from which you both can live . . .

Minimize direct confrontation with the narcissist’s unhealthy behavior. Most narcissists are simply unable to receive criticism, even if it is meant constructively and spoken in a soft and respectful manner . . .

Maintain good personal boundaries between you and the narcissist. In response to your setting a boundary, the narcissist may attempt to rewrite history or even try to convince you that what you thought (or saw) just happened didn’t, and thus, there is no need for setting a boundary in the first place. Do not back down. . . ” (emphasis added)

(Understanding Narcissism, Paul M. Floyd, M.Div., J.D. and Bruce Narramore, Ph.D.)

My recent problem stemmed from the fact that I intentionally made the decision to take down the boundaries I had set and I attempted to bridge the distance I had established. (To find out WHY I would do such a thing, CLICK HERE to read my post Dear PinkGirl: don’t copy me.

(For those who don’t have time to read that post, here’s the twitter version: “a friend witnessed a passive-aggressive attack that didn’t bother me, but upset her. I explored the possibility that my boundaries were not God’s will.”)

Someone I respected – also a Christian and a reasonable person – witnessed a passive-aggressive attack. Because I had mental and emotional boundaries firmly in place, I bounced back like a quarter on a tightly made bed. My friend, however, was surprised and upset by this person’s behavior. It was new to them and seemed out of character. From my perspective, the behavior was fairly typical. But out of respect for my friend, because it upset her, I decided to prayerfully consider whether I was ignoring any promptings from the Holy Spirit to reach out to the narcissist God was allowing in my life.

Armed with daily prayer and all the research on narcissism and passive-aggressive behavior I could devour, I spent the last few weeks attempting to engage in a positive interpersonal relationship with this person I had previously (and successfully) blocked out for 2 years.

It depleted me. It sapped my energy and stole my peace. It interfered with my work. I became so discouraged I even stopped eating and exercising. I slowly lost my patience and my ability to respond appropriately and began to resent this person and react with frustration when I witnessed continued attempts at manipulation, whereas I had previously felt nothing toward them and had been immune to the manipulation for 2 years. I had experienced 2 years of sincere calm indifference when they behaved badly and now? I wanted to smack ‘em every time they acted out. That ain’t good. CLICK HERE to read “step away from the puppy” to read what I wrote about that.”

(For those who don’t have time to read that post, here’s the twitter version: “emotional bullies wear puppy suits. wounded puppy suits. feeding the puppy just makes him hungrier and wipes you out.”)

After relentlessly praying about this situation and this person and relentlessly asking God what he would have me do, I’m grateful and confident that Christ isn’t calling me to extend compassion by making myself available for continuous attack. (again, with another backstory – CLICK HERE to read “I’m going to stop being discouraged and be awesome instead. True Story.“)

(For those who don’t have time to read that post, here’s the twitter version: “I can’t be discouraged anymore. It doesn’t work for me. It’s like breathing through a pillow.”)

My favorite verse in Ephesians 4? Verse 26a: “Be angry but do not sin.”

And I’m very grateful to Dr. Paul Meier for his interpretation of scripture:

David’s response to Saul offers a three-step process for us to follow today:
1. Remember that you aren’t the issue! David knew the problem was with Saul, not with himself.
2. Recognize you can’t cure the other person. David couldn’t straighten Saul out. If you want peace of mind, you must realize you cannot change a crazymaker’s internal workings.
3. We can only change ourselves. Instead of responding to Saul in a like manner, David refused to become Saul’s enemy. David supported the king even as he hid from Saul’s vicious attacks.
Crazymakers by Paul Meier M.D.

I’ve gone back to a place of peace through the re-establishment of boundaries, distance and prayer – I literally pray for this person multiple times per week. If anything will change them, it will be God. Because, unlike me, HE can do ANYthing.


CLICK HERE to see other posts I’ve written about dealing with emotional bullies, narcissists and passive-aggressive people.

April 24, 2012 Posted by | books, christian living, crazymakers, intentional living, laugh!, learning curve, poor me some whine, pragmatic communication, pragmatic communion, what I've learned | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Mythbusters question: Who packs a car better, a man or a woman?

Watching Mythbusters on DVR tonight and that was one of the questions.

FirstHusband: “Oh, DEFINITELY a man.”

Me: “You know why?”

FirstHusband: “Spacial relationships.”

Me: “nope. it’s because we don’t care.”

Once I get the suitcase closed, my job is done.

April 23, 2012 Posted by | laugh!, status updates, till death, women | , , , | 2 Comments

you see the big hat too . . . right?

Ever try to describe the behavior of a passive-aggressive person to someone else?

Inevitably, you come off sounding petty. And a little crazy.

There’s disbelief: “No way. That doesn’t seem like them.”

There’s doubt: “Are you sure? Maybe you misunderstood.”

There’s advice: “You should talk to them about it. They probably have no idea you feel this way.”

And then you think, “maybe I am crazy after all. Maybe I just imagined everything. They seem so normal. So nice.” You look around. “Nobody else has a problem with them. Everybody else thinks they’re nice. There must be something wrong with ME. Maybe I’m tired. or overstressed. oversensitive.”

“Yes, that must be it. This is definitely all in my head. I just need a good night’s sleep. or a day off.”

and then, with the stealth of Eddie Haskel and sweetness of Marie Barone, they strike again.

When you get your bearings, you realize. You weren’t imagining things! You’re not crazy!!! woo hoo!!

wait.

That’s not better. It’s just a different kind of bad. and they’re not going to change. You’re not going to change them.

The only thing you can change is your response.

Someone who engages in passive-aggressive behavior is like a woman sitting in the front row at a play, wearing a big ol’ hat. People approach her and politely tell her that her hat is blocking their view of the stage. They make sure not to insult the hat, assuring her it is a beautiful hat, unique and perfect for her. She smiles and thanks them as they walk away, but she doesn’t take the hat off. She just repositions it to a different spot on her head.

It never even occurred to her to take off the hat.

She’s not being mean. In her mind, she’s not doing anything wrong. Nobody actually asked her to take the hat off. They just told her it was in their way, so she moved it. They told her it was a nice hat. So, by leaving it on, everyone still gets to admire it. She’s doing everyone a great service.

If you’re sitting behind her, you have five choices, only one of them good:

1. You can sit there, mumbling and complaining about the rude woman in the front row wearing the big ol’ hat:
“Can you BELIEVE her? WHAT is her problem?”

2. You can address the issue directly and politely ask her to remove her hat.
But you’re too late. Someone has already told her what a nice hat it is. She’ll defensively tell you that other people have told her they like it, implying that you are a schmuck for asking her to take it off. What’s wrong with you? Why would you even say anything bad about her hat? You must not like her. You’ve hurt her feelings. (You can tell because her bottom lip is quivering.) You’re mean. And after you go back to your seat, just as the show starts, when everyone is supposed to turn off their phone, she’ll send you a text message to tell you that she understands that you’re just upset because you don’t have a hat. After the show, she’ll tell everyone who will listen what happened. Then they’ll all know how petty and mean you were.

Are.

3. You can walk up to her and snatch the big ol’ hat off of her head yourself.
Don’t do it. It just makes you look crazier. and even meaner than if you asked her to remove the hat.

4. You can give up and leave.
What’s the point of sticking around? You won’t be able to see anything anyway.

5. You can STAY and MOVE to BETTER SEAT.
If you’re smart, you’ll move. You won’t let a big ol’ hat run you off.

And if you’re a Christian, you can pray. That she’ll see her big ol’ hat for what it is – an obstacle to open communication and good relationships. Of course, you should probably also pray that God will bless you with the patience and energy to keep moving to a better seat without letting it get to you. (Jesus said we should turn the other cheek. But He didn’t say we had to stand within smack radius.)

New people will come in and, at first, not paying attention, they’ll fill the empty seats around her. After a while, they’ll notice. “That’s a big hat.” They’ll assume she knows it’s rude to leave the hat on. They’ll assume she’ll take it off. When she doesn’t, they’ll find themselves facing the same five choices you did.

As the new people thin out and the crowd consists of people who’ve been there a while, you’ll notice something. She’s surrounded by empty seats.

But she still looks – and feels – good in the hat. And to her, that’s the most important thing.


(This post is a follow up to Dear PinkGirl: don’t copy me.) CLICK HERE for the backstory.


CLICK HERE to see other posts I’ve written about dealing with emotional bullies, narcissists and passive-aggressive people.

April 23, 2012 Posted by | christian living, crazymakers, intentional living, laugh!, learning curve, poor me some whine, pragmatic communication, pragmatic communion, what I've learned | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m going to stop being discouraged and be awesome instead. True Story.

I haven’t exactly been sad. But I’ll admit. For the last few weeks, I’ve been discouraged. I found myself in the middle of a new work group dynamic and the results have been . . . discouraging. Actually, it’s an old dynamic that I allowed to resurface. I should have known better.

I can’t be discouraged anymore. It doesn’t work for me.

I’m not going to hold back my best anymore to try and accommodate someone who is uncomfortable with my strength. It’s been like breathing through a pillow.

I can’t intentionally incorporate their work product into my work anymore. The addition is eroding the quality of my finished product and my peace of mind. If they can add to the finished product, that’s great, but I can’t continue modifying my work to include inconsistent contribution and incompatible components.

I’m not going to be less because they aren’t more. It hasn’t helped them be more. Affirming them hasn’t made them stronger, it’s just wiped me out. Giving them attention doesn’t satiate their need for attention, it just feeds it. It’s never enough.

Like feeding Seymour.

I’m going to go back to what I was doing before I allowed this situation to get out of hand again. I’m going to pray for them. And for me – That God will either change the situation or change my heart.


CLICK HERE to see other posts I’ve written about dealing with emotional bullies, narcissists and passive-aggressive people.

April 18, 2012 Posted by | christian living, crazymakers, intentional living, poor me some whine, youtube | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

five minutes of crazy.

Me, to FirstHusband at Home Depot: “I know that guy. How do I know that guy?”

One minute later, staring at the guy: “WHERE do I know him from?”

And again, this time staring blankly at nothing, watching a clouded memory play back in my head: “He’s a doctor. Whoever he is, he wears a white coat. I know I’ve had a conversation with him while he was wearing a white coat.”

And again: “What doctors do we go to? This is going to drive me nuts all day.”

30 seconds later: “I’m going to wake up at 2am and tell you who he is.”

FirstHusband: “I hope we’re not in the middle of anything.”

Me: “at 2 o’clock in the morning?”
(he got the “yeah, right” raised eyebrow look)

FINALLY: “He’s our VET! ahhhh.”

A few seconds later: “Well, that was five minutes of crazy.”

FirstHusband: “Five minutes. Yeah, we’ll go with that.”

I don’t know what he’s talking about.

April 17, 2012 Posted by | fragments, laugh!, status updates, till death | , , , , | Leave a comment

step away from the puppy.

Warning: Sometimes, emotional bullies wear puppy suits.

wounded puppy suits.

And when you pay attention to them, the whimpering doesn’t get softer,
it gets louder. and louder and louder…

They require more and more of your time and attention. You can’t make them happy. You aren’t the reason they’re UNhappy.

But if you don’t give them the attention they want, they make sure everyone thinks you’re a puppy beater. “Look at that face. How could you be so mean to such a sweet little puppy?”

Communication fails, because if you don’t agree with them, you aren’t different, you are wrong. You’ve misunderstood them. You don’t appreciate all the sacrifices they make. You’re being mean to the puppy.

The constant whimpering is extremely distracting.

and mentally exhausting.

and apparently, I should not play poker. I don’t have the face for it.

I’ve decided to take the puppy beater title over the distraction and mental exhaustion. My strategy for self-preservation?
a·loof (adj.) Distant physically or emotionally; reserved and remote. Does that make me seem heartless?

yeah, I know. I’m praying the puppy tires of me and moves on to other food sources.

But Daffy understands.


CLICK HERE to see other posts I’ve written about dealing with emotional bullies, narcissists and passive-aggressive people.

April 16, 2012 Posted by | crazymakers, learning curve, poor me some whine, youtube | , , , , , | 1 Comment

do the right thing because it’s the right thing.

Last night I was repeating: “God loves my kids more than I do. God loves my kids more than I do. God loves my kids more than I do.”

FavoriteSon went out. On a Friday night. First time driving in heavy traffic IN THE DARK.

“God loves my kids more than I do. God loves my kids more than I do. God loves my kids more than I do.”

In the end, God brought FavoriteSon home safe.

Actually, his friend drove him home because they finished up after 11pm and his dad and I won’t allow him to drive past the State of Florida driving curfew for 16 year olds (11pm). We have to go pick up his car today, but it’s a very small price to pay to reinforce the lesson that we don’t break the law, even if he “probably wouldn’t have gotten caught.”

April 14, 2012 Posted by | christian living, family, intentional living, microactions, pragmatic parenting, status updates | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the power of words.

This is why I struggle when I write. The words I use will make all the difference. This book I’m writing can’t be cathartic purging or just a transfer of information. My goal is to inspire CHANGE – and not the kind people threw at this man’s feet.

As I write and re-write, I’m praying that my FIRST editor is God. It’s His message. He knows the words I should use.

April 13, 2012 Posted by | christian living, motivation, writing, youtube | , , , , | 1 Comment

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