Monday, August 15, 2011

The Problem is....

Those words of Dr. Tim Nelson at Friends University often ring in my ears. I get the amazing privilege of sitting with a couple or family who are having difficulty in their relationship. These words many times are sitting in the back of my mind to help me with the case. “The problem is, the definition of the relationship.” This simple yet complex diagnosis can be the help that a couple needs to see the changes that they wish to make in their relationship.

Most relationships can be categorized under two categories that define how the relationship is going to operate.

PEER relationships are those husband-wife, friend-friend, brother-sister, coworker – coworker, ect. These relationships are characterized by each of the persons involved in the relationship have the same amount of power, control and influence. There is not one side of the relationship that is unbalanced.

POSITIONAL relationships are the employer – employee, parent – child, judge – defendant, ect. These relationships are characterized by one of the individuals having a greater degree of power, control, and influence over the other.

When we have entered into a relationship such as a husband – wife, each spouse is expecting to have a balanced amount of power, control, and influence. Conflict begins to happen with one spouse begins to experience that the other is taking a greater degree of power, control, and influence. The husband – wife relationship could be characterized as a parent – child relationship. It is at the point that the relationship has been redefined as a positional relationship rather than a peer, conflict begins.

We get one relationship with any given person. When we begin to play more than one role we start to create blurred boundary lines. Example. Boss – Secretary = Positional relationship. Things are good. Boss starts to confide in secretary and they build a friendship, = peer relationship. That relationship might have just taken a detrimental turn.

Play the one role in all your relationships well and you will find peace, safety and security with those you love.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Family Reunions

Recently, I had the experience of reconnecting with some of my extended family in the ever dreaded FAMLY REUNION!!!! I am sure that my nervous anticipation of the judgment and ridicule is a familiar experience to many others. As a kid, I was experienced by my cousins and extended family as being extremely spoiled. However, on the inside I experienced great shame and embarrassment of who I was. As I reflect on what I must have been like as a child, I am sure that I was trying to cover up my feelings of inadequacy and shame by being annoying, frustrating, and generally rotten.

Fast forward 30 years, I am sitting around the campfire with the same family members who I provided great material for teasing and harassing and I was able to experience love and acceptance. Much of the time was spent catching up on each others lives. However, there were moments when I felt we were able to look past the image of our youth and see who we are as adults. Many of us have had tremendous relational difficulties, marriage failures, and deaths that have impacted us deeply. While there were the usual jabs at each other, there were also the moments of reality that each of us is tied to the other through the stories of our lives, our parent’s lives, and our past generations. In this place of pain, struggle, success, and love, we were able to stand together and find acceptance and healing.

As with many of my clients, I am no different in that the story of my life has played a significant role in creating who I am today. The same insecurities that I experiences as a child can often show up and have me behave in ways that are frustrating and hurtful to others. In these moments when these insecurities show their ugly head, I find it difficult to stand firm in who I believe that God has created me to be. I find that to be the honest, confident, self-accepting man that God created me to be can be extremely difficult in times that are awkward, scary and uncomfortable.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to be involved in a seminar that is built on the idea that “you cannot change or heal what you do not acknowledge’. So, I continue to acknowledge my wounds, fears, and shame and step forward into the future with confidence that God will continue to work in me to be whom I was created to be all along. It is also my greatest pleasure to walk beside my clients who are struggling to find who they are created to be, and help them find acceptance and love. I am sure I am not alone on this journey, so if you find this a difficulty for you, talk with a trained professional that can help you find the amazing person God has created you to be.