Pragmatic Compendium

inspiring the pragmatic practice of intimacy with Christ

the most divisive word of all: “THEY”

After the events of the last few days, my resilience is worn-down. I can’t read another post or comment by an armchair pundit containing divisive broadcasted attacks against the nameless, faceless “THEY.”

notpersecutedwhencontradictedArrogant sarcastic rants that begin with:
“I love it when…” or
“Don’t you just love it when…” or
“Isn’t it funny, how…”
when no one loves it or thinks it’s funny.

So many one-sided, barricaded opinions using words like “idiots” and “crazy” and the all encompassing and overused label of “hater” to pigeonhole anyone who disagrees with that particular social media blaster on a particular issue.

not to mention the onslaught of profanity-ridden contemptuous ridicule.

and the deliberately cruel comments like the ones below after an alligator attacked a toddler at Walt Disney World within days of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando on June 12th:

hatecomment1

The mom in me can’t help but think “What happened in this person’s childhood and life that could result in such a complete lack of compassion and empathy? How did this particular individual’s character deteriorate to this level of having so little respect for others? Why is this person seemingly incapable of extending kindness to people who are different from them or – even worse – to people who are suffering unimaginable pain? Is this person friendly in real life? or at least civil? Would they say these terrible things to the victim’s families face to face? Or are they a consummate fraud and a coward?”

And then there are the reports of commentators “slamming” someone or shutting someone down. Interviewers “grilling” and politicians “firing back.”

This stuff is coming from BOTH sides of the issues.

Neither side holds the high ground.

globalthermonuclearwarNeither side truly wins if bridges aren’t being built and crossed.

Making a stronger point is pointless if the conversations remain stalemate arguments instead of open dialogs revealing common ground and leading to softened hearts, opened minds and expanded thoughts.

When explaining the reasoning behind a particular point of view in our society today, the use of the words “clearly” and “simply” is empirically wrong.

There is NOTHING clear or simple about the complex and turbulent issues we’re engulfed in.

Thankfully, I’ve come to understand that those who have the capacity to reject the labels and the stereotypes and the caricatures and LISTEN more than they talk don’t spend their discretionary time pontificating through their fingertips about the issues that threaten to permanently divide us.

And I totally get it. I’d rather mow my quarter acre, knee high, 3 week neglected, sloped backyard in the noonday heat of a Florida summer than step a foot into the mire of these issues on the internet.

didntreactdoesntmeandidntnoticeSome of my personal facebook friends have unknowingly attacked me individually through a shotgun approach, railing against “idiots” whose opinions they believe are invalidated because those opinions are deemed irrelevant and wrong. I’ll never comment on one of those posts or reply to one of those comments and reveal that I have anything in common with the people my (facebook) friend can’t or doesn’t accept. That would make me and my family vulnerable to continued and/or focused attack. I’m not stupid.
(Contrary to their belief.)

Even so, I roll around the thought of asking a few of these individuals to meet with me and talk. Not to try and change their mind about whatever side of whatever issue they are committed to. I have no hopes or expectations of changing someone’s mind when they are so categorically entrenched in their commitment to a particular belief.

But still. I idealistically imagine that a face-to-face conversation would personalize the target of their attacks. And if so, would the personalizing of their target prompt them to pause before they post the next time? Is it possible that they might intentionally choose non-inflammatory and respectful language? Would they try to see from someone else’s perspective?

And most importantly, would they consider exploring the possibility of collaboration or compromise by patiently and thoroughly examining and stepping through the complex multifaceted issues instead of calling for a tunnel visioned, all encompassing mandate that barrels over anything and everything that might be a speed bump in achieving their goal?

Why do I think that more likely, they would just hide controversial posts from me after our conversation and continue as before, perpetuating the status quo?

My problem with jumping on a bandwagon is that I see so many sides to these issues. I understand that each of us have reasons for what we believe, need and want, and I can’t help but think that hearing those reasons might bridge some distance and be the first step to resolving some of the problems.

We need to consider perspectives other than our own. Because groupthink never serves anyone well.

I find it impossible to dismiss the fears and concerns of someone
in order to validate my mindset or to get my way.

I’ve said this before: Everybody is a #differentkindofbroken I want to #edify and #seepeople as individuals, even when they are different from me.

I’m praying for God to equip me to be not only His hands and feet in order to help in tangible ways, but also His eyes and ears and voice so as to follow His plan for me: to Love God and Love others. Even others who think and believe differently than I do.

ifyoucantbekindbequietI’m praying for people – in real life and on the internet –

to be slow to speak,
slow to anger and
quick to listen.

And I’m praying that if people can’t be kind,
that they will at least be quiet.

June 16, 2016 Posted by | christian living, edify, pinterest, pragmatic communication, pragmatic communion, youtube | 2 Comments

a lesson in humility. and a reminder.

Dr. Doofenshmirtz might call the first part of this post my “backstory.”

~ I’m a firstborn and an ISTP (67%) / ISTJ (33%) who’s worked with IT personnel (mostly guys) for decades. My instinctive approach is always content over context. Logic over feelings. I’d say that about 90% of the time, I have a male gender communication style; Report talk over rapport talk. I read instruction books and follow procedures – unless of course, the reasoning behind the procedures isn’t logical, which stems from my content over context approach.

~ Pragmatic is my favorite word. The definition that most resonates with me is:

“focused on needs and results, rather than with ideas or theories”

~ I’m a trainer. I’m always learning and I sincerely believe I can learn from everyone, whether I benchmark successes or analyze failures – including my own. As an educator, I have the opportunity and responsibility to share what I’ve learned. Theoretically, the people with whom I share will make more informed decisions, increase efficiency and generally be better as a result of the knowing.

~ As a consultant, I’ve become accustomed to collaborative work groups made up of people who are task oriented and focused on problem solving.

~ Since 1994, I’ve trained and consulted for and with clients ranging from corporation presidents to managing partners to firm administrators to executive support staff to entry level support staff to volunteers. I interact with all of my clients showing the same level of respect, regardless of the formal or informal hierarchical structure of an organization.

That’s my backstory in a nutshell.

So, given all that is me, I found myself in unfamiliar territory when someone recently told me that I had overstepped a boundary.

A little over a year ago, I was working an event and just before the program officially began, this particular person gave some opening instructions. A particular part of the instructions was incorrect.

My thought process was:
1. 300+ people were just given incorrect instructions about the event.
2. The event hasn’t started yet.

So, the firstborn, ISTP/J, problem-solving educator in me gave this person the correct information.
The instructions were restated accurately.
The program began.

But I had overstepped a boundary. And for over a year, I had no idea.

Now that this had been shared with me, I could have gotten swept up into a circular debate about whether the 300+ people needed or deserved to know the correct information before the event began. But I firmly believe the Holy Spirit stopped me from that pointless and selfish attempt to be “right” and redirected my attention to the more important issue, past the factual actions which took place and instead to the person who identified a boundary where I did not.

If God was telling me that the boundary had nothing to do with the accuracy or inaccuracy of information shared, what was the implication of my crossing it?

This person felt disrespected by me. It’s possible I embarrassed them.

It was a humble reminder that my education and experience don’t automatically translate to success in my personal interactions. I’ve got a degree in Organizational Communication. I’ve taught and coached communication theory and its application for decades. I had been involved with this organization for over a decade. I was experienced and familiar with its culture and hierarchy of authority. Yet it didn’t even occur to me that correcting this person might be at odds with the norm. Looking back now, through their perspective, within the context of the organizational culture, I can see it clearly.

hindsight.

Pride and HumilityI’ve been in identical and similar events, in other venues, with different groups of people – in different cultural contexts – and the kind of interaction I’ve described has never been a big deal, even in cases when the person corrected has been upper level management or an owner of a company. In my own personal experience, the person corrected – myself included – has casually tossed back a kind of “thanks for having my back” response and has continued without skipping a beat.

“In my own personal experience…”

That’s what makes communication so difficult. It’s not one-size-fits all.

Although I was familiar with both the culture of this particular organization and the expectation of this particular individual, I drifted into my communication comfort zone. I assumed the situation was similar to the others in which I navigate.

From that assumption, came the perceived disrespect.

And the humbling reminder to actually USE my communication skills.

UPDATE: Someone asked in a comment what I SHOULD have done instead. Here’s my answer:

The person who told me I had crossed a boundary actually specifically stated what they would have preferred:
(1) to be told the correct information after the event,
(2) in private,
(3) and to be told by the person who organized the event (not me) so that,
(4) in future events, they would relay the information to the attendees correctly.

I acted instinctively, not intentionally. Although it goes against all that is pragmatic in me, I could have – should have – allowed the incorrect information to go uncorrected. It would have resulted in decreased participation in the event, which would have disappointed a number of people who had expected to be able to participate and it would have made the event less memorable. Not a tragedy, just not an optimal experience for those of the 300+ who were able to actively engaged because they had been given accurate instructions.

All that said, in full disclosure, just one month after this conversation, my husband and I attended a large meeting at another venue and while the organization’s founder and president was addressing the audience, he misstated some information. Immediately, he was interrupted from the back of the room and corrected. His response was “Thank you for that correction.” And I leaned over to FirstHusband and whispered, “And THAT’S how it’s done.”

December 3, 2015 Posted by | christian living, edify, intentional living, learning curve, pinterest, pragmatic communication | , , , , , | 2 Comments

say what you mean. don’t be mean when you say it.

facebook I dont want to see thisI cut waaay back on facebook over the last few months. Derisive sarcasm and hate were saturating my news feed, weighing and wearing me down.

As I tentatively become more active again, one of my new facebook practices is to select “I don’t want to see this” whenever I read a post declaring that something somebody said or wrote or tweeted “destroyed” something another person said, wrote or stood for. (or similar language)

These kind of smack-down statements are usually only true if you completely ignore or rule out every other aspect of a complex issue other than the one the destroyer targets.

“Destroyed” (and words like it) is the kind of inflammatory language that triggers pointless, unresolvable bickering. It doesn’t invite or facilitate open dialog. Rather, it takes the potential for conversation that might lead divisive people to discover common ground and crops it to a trite soundbite that ends in a period or an exclamation point, or worse yet – “BAM!”

If divisive issues were truly simple, there wouldn’t be so much controversy over them. #edify

“It is the mark of an educated mind
to be able to entertain a thought
without accepting it.” Aristotle

edify
Ephesians 4 29 Bible

August 20, 2015 Posted by | christian living, edify, learning curve, pinterest, pragmatic communication | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

seasoned with salt.

Be salt and light. Matthew 5:13-16If you profess Christianity, please be careful in your discussions about controversial issues today. Please don’t be arrogant. You’re never going to change someone’s mind when you’re words are laced with arrogance or contempt.

What’s your goal?

You don’t have to try and get someone to agree with your point, but you can introduce doubt in their thinking by respectfully questioning the things they say that you don’t agree with.

If your goal is just to be right, you’re missing an opportunity. People are watching and listening.

When we profess faith in Christ, we are called to submit our minds to Him so that they would be transformed. Our words should be seasoned with salt.

Please pray before you speak and ask the Holy Spirit to speak through you instead.

If you publish something on the internet about your belief or conviction or opinion or whatever word you want to use, please take a time-out between the moment when you think you’re finished typing and the moment you hit publish or post. I can’t tell you how many words haven’t made the cut when I take that time out. I’ve written thousands of words that never saw the light of the internet because the Holy Spirit showed me they weren’t edifying.

Click Here to See the Full Post >>>

July 1, 2014 Posted by | christian living, pragmatic communication | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

say what you mean, but don’t be mean when you say it.

I’ve been saying that for years. To my kids, to students and to myself, whenever the situation calls for it. It’s one of my idioms.

Ephesians 429This afternoon, I read an article about a controversial subject in which the writer gave the distinct impression that anyone who doesn’t agree with them is ignorant.

Not ignorant in an uninformed or misguided way. There was no attempt to inform or guide. The writer declared “palpable and inescapable love” for God and their neighbor, but as I read, I found myself thinking of the word contempt, not love.

The examples were taken to an extreme, seemingly in an effort to evidence the stupidity and expressions of hate by anyone who believes differently.

For the purposes of this post, the issue itself is irrelevant. I personally didn’t identify with either side of the specific issue being written about. The idea that no other (more complicated) possibilities of thought or action exist is implausible.

Issues under debate are not simple. If they were simple, there wouldn’t be so much debate.

Click Here to Read the Full Post >>>

June 26, 2014 Posted by | christian living, pragmatic communication, pragmatic communion, prayer | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

sarcasm: religious and political poison.

sarcasm and stupidityReading too much on the internet today and keep thinking one thing:

Sarcasm is an ineffective persuasive technique.

It’s condescending, arrogant, divisive and shuts down dialog. It’s too often used by people in a manner to indicate that an issue is simple and anyone who doesn’t see the simplicity and logic of their side of an argument is an idiot to be ridiculed and dismissed.

Seriously.

If these issues were simple,
they wouldn’t be so controversial.

Anyone who uses trite, flippant sarcasm to make a point – especially without even acknowledging any opposing points of view – loses credibility with me

and my interest in any discussion with them about how stupid the other guy’s point of view is

– regardless of whether I am the other guy or am aligned in opinion with the person wielding the sarcasm.

sarcasm puppets and crayons

March 6, 2014 Posted by | christian living, intentional living, pinterest, pragmatic communication, status updates | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

facebook fragments: 01/10/14 – 01/17/14 (listened to a lot of music this week)

For those of you who don’t follow me on facebook…

Friday, 01/10/14
“that’s precious.” #stuffIdontsay

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Sunday, 01/12/14
My son just used the word “solace” in everyday conversation.
And he didn’t remember using it when I asked if I could post this.
I’m so proud.

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The 2014 Living Room makeover: before and during
(click to photo below to see all the “before” shots)

new flooring sample
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Monday, 01/13/14
Parking FavoriteSon’s new car second in the driveway without overlaping the sidewalk.
I’m getting good at this.

driveway parking

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Tuesday, 01/14/14

God Catchers When you are hungry for Him God doesnt say calm down

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This song was posted by a family who just lost their 3 month old son.
A testimony of faith in devastating heartbreak.

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PinkGirl is FREAKING out over this. We have tix to see – and MEET – them in March. #ilovemydaughter

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Wednesday, 01/15/14
Louder.

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Book Sniffing. How Nerds Get High. #bibliophile

book sniffing

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Thursday, 01/16/14
that time when you see someone do something nice to help someone else. after making it very clear just how put out they are in the doing of it. #itaintgracewhenyougiveitthatway

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“Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’ve come.”

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Praying for saturating comfort and intense peace for some friends who are hurting today.
(click the photo to view the source post)

https://pragmaticcompendium.com/?s=princess+tapestry
disney princess tapestry back

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These photos are another reminder for me. Sometimes you can’t see someone’s pain. Doesn’t mean it’s not there. #reachout #seepeople (click the photo below to see the rest of the photos and the story behind the last one)

JohnSchneider

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A huge THANK YOU to Kristen with BodyInUnity Inc.! Tonight was my 2nd yoga class after more than 6 months away. And THANK YOU to OASIS Spa & Wellness for hosting the Thursday 6pm session! Such a peaceful and edifying environment! If you’re local and interested in Christian yoga classes, check out the Body in Unity facebook page for more info. And be sure to check out the services at Oasis! Beautiful, professional, peaceful and a great value! #fightthefrump #GoodStewardofthisBody

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Friday, January 17, 2014
Putting a credit card to good use on a Florida winter morning.

frost on the windshield

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Thinking about songs that have been challenging for me to learn. If we only sang “singable” songs during worship, I never would have gotten to lead this one.

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mmmm, drums for the King. “We lift our banner high, we lift the name of Jesus” New Elevation Worship song.

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If you see me singing in my van over the next few days, this is what I’m listening to:

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FavoritetHusband put up 5 birdhouses on Sunday. Took these two 5 days to find theirs.

birdhouses

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Finally found FavoiteSon a PS4 (delayed Xmas present) but had to buy it in a bundle. Listed the headset & 1 of the unwanted games on Ebay last night. One sold before I went to bed, the other before I woke up. LOVE it when my auctions turn over like that!

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Anyone want to weigh in on the current inhouse mother/daughter disagreement?
peanut butter. creamy or crunchy?

crunch or creamy peanut butter

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I’ve let Bob the cat in. and out. and in. and out. no less than 10 times so far today.
His sister, Boo? zero. The girl knows how to make a decision.

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2nd yoga class last night after more than 6 months off. I think I feel every. single. muscle. in my body right now. #fightthefrump #GoodStewardofthisBody

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To see more previous facebook update and compilation blog posts, CLICK HERE

January 28, 2014 Posted by | books, christian living, clean house, crazymakers, exercise, fight the frump, fragments, GoodStewardofthisBody, home sweet home, laugh!, music, pinterest, poor me some whine, praise team music, status updates, suffering, vehicles, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

the positive impact of negative feedback.

I’ve known for a very long time that I’m different. Not “better” different. Because, really, “better” is relative. Better than what? The comparisons are limitless. and I’m thinking at least 50% of them wouldn’t be pretty. “Different” can imply too much trouble. too much work. weird. tiresome. exasperating. I don’t deny those adjectives. They’re not my favorite, but they’re not untrue.

square peg round holeI’m probably most at home with the idea of square pegness. I’ve gotten used to the fact that I usually don’t fit. It bothered me so much more when I was a kid.

I’m not a kid anymore.

I’ll be 49 this month. In 4 days actually. Time for (another) hard look in the mirror:

Retin-A prescription. check.
sunscreen. check.
paralyzing self-doubt. che…WAIT.

WHAT THE H3LL is THAT DOING HERE?

no no no no no. That has got to GO.

Somehow, somewhere, some way, the idea that I’m “doing it WRONG” had planted itself smack in the middle of my writing path, taking me on a multi-month detour that led straight into a dead end. I stopped “doing it” altogether and focused instead on the WAY I was doing it. Which again, I perceived believed was WRONG.

Ironically, the thing that triggered the paralyzing self-doubt was the exact same thing that knocked me free from it.

feedback.

~ Someone telling me my blog posts were selfish made me forget that a blog, by definition is an online journal. So, by definition, MY blog is about what I think and how I feel and how I process. It’s not a place where I write one-size-fits all articles directed at the masses in exchange for money. I intentionally don’t monetize this blog because I want to say what I want to say without outside censorship. Almost overnight, internal censorship resulted in words that were so restricted and appropriately vanilla that proofing them was like reading something written by a complete stranger. A boring stranger. KMN. I forgot that clicking – or not clicking – a mouse button is a choice every single person who reads my blog is free to make…or NOT make.

~ Someone telling me they don’t read my blog because I tend to ramble on, somehow made me count my words – instead of considering the fact that maybe they just DON’T WANT TO READ it. I took the “ramble on” feedback to mean that I needed to learn to write more concisely – instead of considering the possibility that maybe – just maybe – what I have to say just flat out doesn’t interest them.

~ Two different people tell me they sometimes have to read something I’ve written twice and I focus on the one who tells me I lost them instead of focusing on the one who wants to have coffee to explore what I said and talk about what she took away from it after the second, slower read it required and the deeper thinking it led to.

~ And most frustrating and challenging of all, there were widespread tangential comments from, and conversations with, multiple people about both my Christ-centered church and my search for joy blog posts which didn’t seem to be related to the content of what I had actually written. I had written extensively about the why and how we do things and the feedback was all about what we do – or about something else entirely. I was overwhelmed and grieved with the heartbreaking realization that we were suffering from a fatal illness and the feedback I was hearing was all about how dedicated we are to our health and how hard we work to eat right and exercise. It was a disconnect I couldn’t reconcile.

and so I shut down. no more writing until I could learn how to do it with more clarity.

Finally, after months of being unable to even open my book draft, and after finally identifying exactly WHY (a lack of confidence in my ability to effectively encode ANYthing I wanted to say), I began asking people to restate, in their own words, what they thought I said. One after another, multiple people made it crystal clear to me that my encoding was spot on. The message was clear. It was understood.

It was just rejected.

EXCELLENT!!

wait. that’s probably just a different kind of bad.

BUT IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MY ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY!

I’m used to rejection. Being dismissed is old hat. I’m SO much better at respectfully agreeing to disagree than I’ll ever be at pretending to agree.

But being an educator and believing I had become an incompetent communicator? That was paralyzing.

This feedback led to a significant pivot point. These people were able to succinctly restate my message. They had a very clear understanding of what I wrote and their ability to precisely restate what I said – along with their rejection of it – was just the epiphany I needed to break free from this quagmire. In that pivot point moment, I saw it. I was suffering from toxic levels of avoidance. I couldn’t write. Not because I didn’t have anything to say, but because by NOT writing, there was absolutely ZERO chance I could create selfish, rambling, rhetoric that loses people. I had spent weeks re-reading previous blog posts with the eye of an iron glute professor armed with textbook communication theory and a psychological red pen that could berate Dr. Seuss for lack of clarity and nonsensical vocabulary.

postive impact of negative feedbackI’m not saying I’m going to insulate myself from honest, yet sometimes negative feedback because it might derail me again. I understand the dangers of a steady diet of rainbows. I’ve paid a therapist and a voice teacher to tell me the truth. I’m going to keep seeking feedback. And NOT only from people who believe every kid who plays should get a trophy. I just need to REMIND MYSELF of ONE thing EVERY. SINGLE. time I process a word of it:

I’m a square peg.

and I LIKE being square. I think round things are inefficient uses of space. And I know the look I get when I say that out loud to someone. It goes with the eye roll you just gave me. Nobody thinks or cares about the the spacial efficiency of square objects.

except maybe me. because I’m different.

September 5, 2013 Posted by | Christ-Centered Church, learning curve, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic communication, pragmatic communion, the search for Joy, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

“Christ-centered Church.” I do not think it means what you think it means.

This is the 9th post of a series. CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.


oh, go ahead. click the youtube video. It’s 7 seconds.

Lemme ‘splain. No, there is too much. Lemme sum up.

When I talk about “preaching Christ”
I am NOT only talking about preaching
“everybody is a sinner and they need Jesus or they’re going Hell.”

This is something we need to get out of the way before I continue. Purge this assumption from your mind. It is an obstacle to the actual message I’m trying to convey. A misleading tangent. A stumbling block. A wrong assumption.

So I need to say it again, louder.

When I talk about “preaching Christ”
I am NOT only talking about preaching
“everybody is a sinner and they need Jesus or they’re going Hell.”

My point, from the very beginning of this blog series is this:

THERE. IS. MORE!!!
and I WANT IT.

Is that whole “preaching Christ means preaching about getting saved” thing gone?

No?

okay, lemme ‘splain.

I’ve gotten some very eclectic feedback on this blog series. One of the reasons I held off hitting the publish button for as long as I did was that I knew that what I had written was filled with the potential to confuse, discourage and tick people off just as much as it had the potential to wake up, inspire and encourage people.

I wondered. Would I hear crickets? Would anybody even read it? Would anybody want to talk to me about what I’d written? Or would it make people so uncomfortable around me they would avoid eye contact and walk the other direction when they saw me coming? Would something I’d written hurt someone? Make them angry? Would people tolerate my ideas if they were different than their own? Would I be dismissed with the silent treatment? Would ANYone identify with me? Would ANYone agree with me?

The answer?

YES.

But one thing I didn’t expect was that some people would think that by saying I wanted a “Christ-centered” church and that I wanted my pastor to “preach Christ” I was saying I wanted every sermon to be like this:

or worse yet, like this: (be sure and read it with a southern accent and yell the one syllable words that have morphed into two syllable words ending in “ah.”)

EV-ER-EEbody IS A HORRIBLE, SINNER!!!! IF YOU DO NOT ACCEPT JESUS CHRIST-tah, IF YOU ARE NOT BORN AGAIN-nah, YOU’RE DESTINED-dah TO BURN IN HELL-lah FOR ETERNITY. DO I HEAR AN AMEN?!”

seriously.

That is NOT what I’m talking about.

and yet, in spite of everything I had written, that’s what some readers were coming away with.

I’m telling you. It was driving me nuts. I went back over my Christ-centered posts again and again and I didn’t SEE it. I could NOT find it.

WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? WHERE DID I SEND THAT MESSAGE?

I didn’t.

Kudos to my friend “Flutterby43” for reminding me about decoding. Sad, really. I was a communication major. I should have remembered this.

encoding and decoding

Encoding is, to simplify it, the words and pictures I use to convey my message. DEcoding is how that message is interpreted. The constant here is that the encoding of my message is the same for everyone who is reading my blog posts. The variables are the personal filters that my message has to make it through as people interpret (decode) that message. The discrepancies in those interpretations are due to the fact that sometimes my message isn’t making it through the decoding process unscathed by those personal filters.

Translated? We all have baggage, people. And sometimes, that baggage leads us to interpret – or decode – messages in messages that aren’t really there. I’ve done it. We’ve all done it. We’ll all do it again.

But this time, I got some feedback about this message.

Here’s the conversation that finally led me to figure it out:

Flutterby43: “My quiet, introverted nature gravitates toward a more contemplative worship style, and I would be overwhelmed and, yes, SCARED by fire and brimstone – but I totally get where you’re coming from.”

Me: “Your comment “fire and brimstone.” Where does that come from? You’re not the first person to take that away. What did I say that caused you to think that? I can’t find it. I don’t see it.”

Flutterby43: “You didn’t use the term – That’s just my phraseology – honestly, if I had a pastor telling me every week that I needed Jesus, because I’m a hopeless sinner, it’d get old. (Again, that’s just my interpretation of what you’re saying) I know I need Jesus. I know I’m a sinner. But I’m just not an “in your face” kinda gal. I tend to beat myself up on my own – if I heard that every week, I’d come away from church feeling so bad about myself, I’d probably just crawl into bed and never leave the house!” (emphasis added)

Me:ahhhhhhhh. Thank you! That was driving me crazy. I think I get it. “Preaching Christ” gives the impression that I’m talking about evangelism. and it appears evangelism means “fire and brimstone” and “turn or burn” to some people. I REALLY need to finish this series. I still haven’t gotten through what I mean by Gospel and preaching Christ. I thought I clarified that I wasn’t just talking about evangelism, in my post “the gospel is more than evangelism,” but I need to hurry up and explain – more and better.

There’s more to Christ than salvation.

I knew when I started posting this series that it was long and that it would take me a while to get through it, but I didn’t think through how the drawn out nature of the process could lead to premature and incorrect assumptions about my point.

My bad.

The fact is, some people are going to run my message through their personal internal filters and think I am saying:

“I want to hear fire and brimstone turn or burn sermons every week. And every chance they get, I think everybody in my church should tell all their friends (and strangers) that if they don’t repent they’re going to hell! And when they don’t, they should feel really guilty about it. It’s just more evidence that everybody is a horrible, hopeless sinner and bad Christian.”

That’s NOT what I’m saying. Thankfully, from the feedback I’m receiving, I’m confident that some people are identifying with what I actually AM saying – my true message is resonating with them.

But here’s the thing, now that I know there are some people are going to interpret the words “Christ-centered” as “fire and brimstone turn or burn evangelism”, it’s MY RESPONSIBILITY TO MODIFY MY ENCODING in an effort to clarify my message and minimize any misinterpretation.

So, I’m holding off on my story for a little longer. I’ve got some encoding work to do.

To read the next post in this series, click here: F5. How many people like me? F5. How many people like me?


Ephesians 4 29Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

“Everything is made to center upon the initial act of “accepting” Christ . . . and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him we need no more seek Him. This is set before us as the last word in orthodoxy, and it is taken for granted that no Bible-taught Christian ever believed otherwise. Thus the whole testimony of the worshipping, seeking, singing Church on that subject is crisply set aside. The experiential heart-theology of a grand army of fragrant saints is rejected in favor of a smug interpretation of Scripture which would certainly have sounded strange to an Augustine, a Rutherford or a Brainerd.”
The Pursuit of God (free on Kindle from Amazon)
by A. W. Tozer.


This is the 9th post of a series. CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.

February 12, 2013 Posted by | books, Christ-Centered Church, christian living, pinterest, poor me some whine, pragmatic communication, pragmatic communion, pragmatic presence, youtube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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