I Want To be: Obedient (A Study on David)

22 But Samuel replied,
What is more pleasing to the Lord: 
your burnt offerings and sacrifices
or your obedience to His voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, 
and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
23Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,
He has rejected you as king.’ “
~1 Samuel 15:22-23

      The God of the Bible would much rather have our obedience than what we THINK he wants us to do. This is the message Samuel gives to Saul. Previously in the chapter, the Lord had ordered the destruction of the Amalekites-meaning everyone had to die. EVERYONE. Saul disobeyed, saving the king and the best of the livestock to be sacrificed for their victory. He thought that it would be a good thing, but he overlooked the fact that what he was doing was in fact disobeying God’s orders. 

     You see, there is a great difference in what WE think would please God and what He actually wants. We have constructed a world in which being “a good person” is good enough to please God. We have lowered the standard of what it means to be a Christian, and taken Jesus Christ down from His place as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. It is taught that we can find our OWN ways to reach Heaven, and even that Heaven and God is just a frame of mind inside of ourselves. Even in the Christian realm, it has become somewhat lax in what pleases God. The Gospel has been watered down so that obedience isn’t always necessary, just encouraged. We should just “try”.
     But. God is perfect. This being true, He perfectly knows what would please Him. And it isn’t anything that we can possibly think of. Isaiah 55:8-9 says that
“8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so my ways are higher than your ways
    and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
The best kind of praise and pleasing things we can think can’t even begin to compare to what God wants, or deserves. But what pleases God?
According to this, our obedience to His Word and commands.
Why is this?
Because when we are obedient to Christ-to the point of, and past spiritual death on a cross-it brings us closer to Him and also takes us out of this sinful world.

1. Obedience to Christ Brings Us Closer to Him

     Look at the Words of James. 4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5 What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?6 But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud
    but favors the humble.”

7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. “
The order of this passage is so important! James first comes out and says that we need to obey God, rather than obey the world. There is no in between, no walking the fence. There is either God, or the world. He then goes on to say that if we choose God, and draw closer unto Him, then God will also draw closer to us. But it has to go both ways. Christ is always there, arms open, speaking to us, ready. It is up to us, however, to continually be obeying Him and letting ourselves be conformed to His image. We do have to hold our end of the bargain. 1 Peter 1:16 says that “For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”” This is a high call, to be holy! There’s not any room for an in-between. We are called to be set apart, to be holy. To be perfect. To not be a part of this world! 


2. Obedience to Christ Takes Us Away From the World

     There is clearly a difference between God logic and world logic. The world tells us that we can find the source of our own meaning and existence. They say do what makes you happy, and that truth is relative. That you can pick and choose what you want to believe, that sin is okay. These thoughts and ways of life leave people empty, constantly searching, forever looking for solidity and a foundation to put their life on.  God tells us that He sent down His son so that we don’t have to be like this. He died for the sins of the entire world. All of us. He gave us a path back to Him so that we could have a foundation to put our life on, for someone that can perfectly fill the hole that’s inside of us. 
     Romans 12:2 says “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” The simplest way to put this is this. God, our perfect, holy, righteous God, designed us in such a way that if we live life for Him, we will be living up to our fullest potential. We will also satisfy that desire in us for something…more. The Scriptures say that we all have a voice in us that cries out for God-because He made us that way. Humans try to fill that hole with other things-alcohol, drugs, sex, money, greed, friends, etc. We are too prideful to admit that we need to submit to our Lord. When God calls us to be set apart and holy, He is calling us out of this world we live in. We are not to act like those in this world-think like them-partake in those things. If we are of the Spirit of God, we are to walk and think and be in that same Spirit. It’s a high calling, to live here but not BE here. If we are willing to do this, however, that obedience will bring glory back to God-it will magnify the One we are obedient to.
 
     When we are obedient to Christ, it will always then reflect the One we are obedient TO, and magnify Him. God wants our obedience because it creates a much better life for us, and brings Him the glory He very much deserves. In order for me to be a man after God’s own heart, I need to be completely obedient to His Son. I need to draw closer to Christ through the every day discipline of the Word, and prayer, and in doing so I need to also watch that I am not walking in the world. I cannot be friends with both the world and Christ. Being after God’s heart means submitting completely unto Him!

What Did You Say? Improving Your Listening Skills, Day 2: Talking To the Mentor

     Image
      (above: picture of Assisi, Italy)

     Today I went to talk with my mentor. He was assigned to me through a program in school that I have, that requires me to have someone to talk to outside of faculty. We went out to eat-a more informal occasion, but one in which I still need to listen nonetheless. He began to tell me about the trip he took to Assisi, Italy. It was a pilgrimage to the sites dealing with St. Francis of Assisi. At first I wasn’t listening all too intently. Well. I was, but I was giving in to slight distractions, including my hat. My hat is really soft and I was playing with it. About a third of the way through the conversation, however, it occurred to me that I was giving really bad body language that was showing my disconnect from the conversation. So I looked to change that. 
I started making more eye contact when he was speaking, to show that I was engaged in the conversation. It was helpful, too, because it allowed me to focus more on what he was saying-which turned out to be quite interesting. I also asked a lot of probing questions; partially because I really wanted to know the answers and partially because it gave him an opportunity to expound upon the trip. I was also more conscious of my responding to his statements-whether verbally or non-verbally. The back half of the conversation was much better. I was more engaged, and he looked more eager to tell me about what had went on on this trip. It turned into an actual deeper conversation about the benefits of travel! I would call today a success. 

Vocabulary:
Body language-the intentional or unintentional movement of various body parts that sends nonverbal messages. 
eye contact-using eye focus to signal attention, respect, emotional reactions, or dominance.
probing questions-questions that search for more information or try to resolve perceived inconsistencies in a message.
responding-the process of providing feedback to your partners message.

I Want To Be: Like The Armor Bearer (A Study on David)

 One day Jonathan said to his armor bearer, “Come on, let’s go over to where the Philistines have their outpost.” But Jonathan did not tell his father what he was doing. 2 Meanwhile, Saul and his 600 men were camped on the outskirts of Gibeah, around the pomegranate tree at Migron. 3 Among Saul’s men was Ahijah the priest, who was wearing the ephod, the priestly vest. Ahijah was the son of Ichabod’s brother Ahitub, son of Phinehas, son of Eli, the priest of theLord who had served at Shiloh.

No one realized that Jonathan had left the Israelite camp. 4 To reach the Philistine outpost, Jonathan had to go down between two rocky cliffs that were called Bozez and Seneh. 5 The cliff on the north was in front of Micmash, and the one on the south was in front of Geba. 6 “Let’s go across to the outpost of those pagans,” Jonathan said to his armor bearer. “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”

7 “Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.””

1 Samuel 14:1-7

 

     To quickly summarize what follows, Johnathan and his armor bearer end up going to fight and kill about 20 men. Then the Lord threw the Philistines into a panic. When the rest of Israel saw this, they went to battle and defeated the Philistines. I have often heard it said that we have a choice to make in life. Do we want to be like Jonathan, and be bold and daring for the Lord? Or do we want to be like the rest of the army-only waiting until God is already moving to join the fray? 
     The conclusion drawn from that is, while it’s good to be working while God is moving, God is looking for people who are willing to step out and do whatever it takes for Him. This is all well and good. It’s not wrong at all.
     But when I read this passage, something else struck me as very eye-opening. Let’s look at verse 7 again.  ” ‘Do what you think is best’, the armor bearer replied, ‘I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.'” 

Do what you think is best.

     Those are completely sacrificial words on the part of the armor bearer. To me, we aren’t to be like Jonathan at all. Jonathan is a picture of Jesus. He’s saying, “Follow me! I will make you fishers of men, apostles, preachers, teachers, doers of the Word. You will have signs and wonders follow you, none will harm you…but only if you are willing to be reckless and completely abandon to FOLLOW ME. I have a great plan that will result in a great victory. Will you follow me?”
Look at what Luke 9:   has to say about the cost of following Jesus: 
57 As they were walking along, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow you wherever you go.”58 But Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”
59 He said to another person, “Come, follow me.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” 60 But Jesus told him, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.” 61 Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” 62 But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”” 

When Jesus speaks to us, and calls us to follow Him, the cost is everything You can’t go back to family, friends, work. This isn’t to say go live alone..but rather that Jesus has to take the number one spot in your heart mind body and soul. In His parables Jesus likened this to a man who, when he finds a small pearl of great worth, sells all that he has just to be able to have it. We have to leave absolutely EVERYTHING behind in order to follow Him. Nothing else should be able to compare to our devotion to and for Jesus. 

     The armor bearer was willing to do that. He trusted Jonathan’s decisions, his actions. He trusted Jonathan with his life. In that very manner, we need to trust Jesus with OUR life. We need to be striving to get to that point where we, too, can say, “Your decision is best. I’ll follow you wherever you go.” 

The statement of the armor bearer can be broken into two parts: the trust, and then the action. 

Part One: Do What You Think Is Best

     Before we can go DO anything for Jesus, we first have to trust Him. This is a hard thing to do-as many people feel, it’s hard to trust something you can’t see. But Jesus has proved His trustworthiness time and time again. In a very practical sense, there are over 300 Old Testament prophecies about Jesus that He has fulfilled, to the letter. The chances of this happening are infinitesimal. There is nobody who even comes CLOSE to that.
1 Corinthians 1:24  says that “This “foolish” plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength.” ” If we believe Jesus is perfect, then we have to believe that His judgement was perfect-that His thoughts and actions were all perfect. Why wouldn’t one want to trust someone who is perfect? But yet people still struggle with that thought-that Jesus was perfect. This is where faith comes in. By continuously seeking the Lord, we can come to a place where we just…know..that Jesus was perfect. The account of the Gospels and what we read in  Scripture do well to present us with that image of the Son of God. It is through that picture, along with the revelation of Christ Himself, that we know that He is perfect. That revelation only comes to those who seek it. Do you not believe Christ is perfect? Then ask Him to show you, to “prove Himself” so to speak. God loves to interact with us and to amaze us and show us his majesty and glory. If you ask Him to reveal His Son to you, He most surely will. 
     For the believer, it’s a matter of discipline. Seeing where Christ has brought you from, and knowing He is perfectly faithful, it becomes a daily matter of trusting Him with everything. No matter how small the problem, we need to give it to Christ. Every thought needs to be captive to Him, every action reflecting His movement. We can never do this perfectly. But if we strive to trust Jesus more and more, our actions and thoughts and being will reflect this trust to the point where it is not a big deal. It’s a lifestyle now. 

 

Part Two: I’m With You Completely

     Because we trust in Jesus, now we have the capacity to act on that trust. If we believe the things He tells us, then we know the work He has for us to do is right. Even if it’s outside of our comfort zone. It is extremely hard for me to go talk to people I don’t know, one on one. Yet God has called me on multiple occasions to do just that. Every time I resist, I feel the pulling of the Holy Spirit telling me that I KNOW what I should have done. And every time I trust the Lord and His leading, things work out perfectly. God knows just what we need, even if it isn’t what we want. In Jeremiah 29:11-12 it says that “11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”. 
Do you see that? God wants to bless us! His future for us is bright and prosperous-but it only comes when we seek Him. We need to be willing to go out and follow hard after God, and He will answer. When we follow the Lord, He will always give us abundant life. This may come in some material form-but more than likely, it will be an abundance of spiritual blessing, an outpouring of God that results in many lives being changed and glory being brought to God. God wants us to obey His will-because not only will the Gospel be going forth, but it will also enrich our own lives to the fullest extent as well. 

     In conclusion, in order to be a man after God’s own heart, I have to be an armor-bearer. Someone who is completely committed to the cause. I have to place my trust fully in Jesus, and I have to be willing to follow Him wherever He wants to go. This is my calling and my goal. 

What Did You Say? Improving Your Listening Skills, Day 1: The Musings of Hunger

      Today, I went to help feed people (like a soup kitchen) in need as a part of a requirement for one of my classes. We went to St. Ben’s church down in Milwaukee, about 15 minutes from my campus. When we got there, we were assigned jobs and got to work. I was in charge of taking the dishes back as they piled up. I admit, this disappointed me at first. I was looking forward to hearing people’s stories and talking with those who needed to come in and eat. Instead, I was scraping food off plates and plunging my hands into murky water. 
     Not quite so ideal.
     As I was standing there, people passing by would occasionally say “thank you” to me, with which I would just respond “you’re welcome”. As time passed, more people began to talk to me, and I decided I would just listen. Listening to these people was great and tragic at the same time. I had a funny exchange with one man about the lack of salt and pepper in the veggies.
     Then there was this boy, age eight.
     I’ll call him John.
     John was a talkative lad, and the first person who stayed prolonged to talk to me. He was completely grossed out by the dirty water and garbage. He was a cute kid, unabashed and unafraid to talk to a stranger. John, a kid who asked if he could take some salt packets. I said sure. He then proceeded to pull a handful out of his pocket. “These are for my friends!” he exclaimed. I nodded and he continued. Apparently, his “friends” are only his friends if he gives them salt. If he does good enough, they’ll even let him play on the kickball team. But if not…John didn’t specify what would happen. It was implied. All the way through talking with him I didn’t take over the conversation-I just listened. At the end of his tale, I just asked one question..Why would he want to be friends with people like that? What kind of friends are they?
     He paused, and said he didn’t know.
     That really, they were cool people.
     I asked again, Why? 
     He didn’t know. 

     There was another gentleman who appeared to have some mental deficiency. I struck up a conversation, but it seemed he would be delayed in his responses. When he did respond, I would ask clarifying questions to be able to make sure I understood what he said. It also kept him engaged, and we talked for a bit. He didn’t like milk in his coffee, and had a brother named Chris with sickle-cell anemia. His attention seemed to always be taken away, so I would simply ask a different question about him and he would go from there. I had to be fully present with this man because he spoke in short bursts of conversation; he wouldn’t talk for a minute or two, and then say something and expect a response. He was a very nice man.
     The last man I spoke with ended up being another volunteer. He had a heavy Hispanic accent, so at times I did have to ask him to repeat himself. He was a very genuine man, and I flipped back and forth between Spanish and English in order to be understood. The conversational tone here was very friendly and informal, and it was a good opportunity for me to work on my listening skills in more than one language. 

     I think what I took away from today was this. You should ALWAYS be listening to those around you. Not just the important people, not just what the news says or the media says. Seek out those who have something to say, and aren’t heard. And just. Listen. 

Vocabulary:

clarifying questions: responses designed to get further information or to remove uncertainty form information already received. 
present (presentness): The willingness to become fully involved with another person by taking time, avoiding distractions, being responsive, and risking attachment.
conversational tone: the emotional and relational quality [of a conversation], or how it feels “inside” the interaction. 

A Definition of Baptism

      Dan Lyons, age 18, recalls the day fairly well. It was about three years ago, and it was done at the hands of a youth pastor and another man instrumental in young Dan’s life. “It was those two who did it,” he said, “They thought it would be funny to re-dunk me and hold me under for a while.”(D.Lyons, personal communication, October 22, 2013). Despite all of the funny business, he does remember it being the moment when his faith was solidified-made real in the presence of those who loved and cared about him. When asked what he was feeling that day, Dan said “really just excitement, and joy (D.Lyons,2012). 
    Emma Morse is a young girl at 15, but has always felt a love for Jesus. She wanted to show others her love and devotion to Jesus. Unlike Dan, in the days leading up to it she felt nervous. Morse exclaimed that “I was always worried that I was wanting to get baptized for the wrong reasons like getting attention and having a small party,” (E. Morse, personal communication, October 22, 2013). Later she found comfort in the Scriptures and went ahead with her baptism, feeling much more secure in her faith from then on.  The stories of Lyons and Morse are just two examples of something that is unique in the Christian faith—baptism. Since it was introduced, it has held a great significant meaning for Christians across the globe. Baptism, a religious act, is a physical representation of a spiritual rebirth. 

 

            The physical act of a baptism has a few components to it. First, it has to be done at the consent of whoever wants it. It is not really a baptism if it is forced upon someone. Then, there is the actual baptism itself. The person who wishes to be baptized is brought to wherever it is being done. The location does not particularly matter—it can be a backyard pool, an actual river, a baptismal tub in a church—wherever. The person performing the baptism (usually a pastor) will hold on to the person, and ask them to confess their belief in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the remission of our sins and then rose three days later from the grave. The person will agree and confess this, and then the pastoral figure will dunk them under the water and bring them back up. The person is now baptized! They have publicly declared their belief and have taken a huge step in their faith. This is just the basic side, however. Baptism is a much deeper event than simply dunking someone in a pool. There is a much more significant meaning to a baptism.  One could look at a baptism in two parts. There is the actual act—the bringing down and back up. There is also the water itself. A baptism can have multiple meanings in the one act, making it difficult to define. Dr. J. Collins of the Covenant Theological Seminary poses a great question when he asks whether baptism gives new life, symbolizes a new life, or is it testimony to a new life already given (p. 86).

      The water is a huge part of the baptism. Water has been used as a constant metaphor in the Bible for spiritual life. In the book of John, Jesus spoke of water in a spiritual sense: “Anyone who drinks this water [from the well] will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, New Living Translation). Again, in the book of Revelation, we see water as being something that has life and meaning: “Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Revelation 22:1).  Notice both verses talk about water as giving life, or having life. In terms of a baptism, this is significant. Baptism is the showing of the passing from one’s old sinful life into a new life with Christ. If one looks at the water with this spiritual connotation, the water is literally new life-washing away the old, and ushering in the new spirit of a person. S. Bouma-Prediger (2012), a professor of religion at Hope College in Michigan, says this about the use of water in baptism:

In today’s baptisms, too, water signifies that we are part of God’s grand family. The veil is thrown open and for a moment we see things as they really are. As the apostle Paul tells us, we see all things cohering in Christ, the Beloved Son. All things, as John the Seer reveals to us, singing praise to God and the Lion who is the Lamb. (p.46)

     The water is a cleansing element; it brings clarity to a person’s faith as they begin to realize that this is the life that they now live. Like Bouma-Prediger says, a person truly begins to see things as they are in that moment. Some would say that God opens their eyes at that moment, and they are endowed with that new sense of life that bubbles up from within—like a spring. The importance of the water can be talked about upon itself for essays upon essays; this is merely a simple view of what it means. There is no doubt, however, that the use of water to show the cleansing of the spirit and the clarity of the mind is very intentional.

     The actual physical act of baptism is symbolic in itself. There is the “going down” into the water, and the “coming up” out of the water. The going down is thought to be as one’s old life going down in submission to Christ. In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul put it this way. “Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in His death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism…” (Romans 6:3-4a). Paul, as many Christians today, believed that this being put into the water symbolizes the death of our old selves. It is the death of the sin nature that we have until we give our lives to Christ.

     On the flip side, when a person comes up from the water, that old sin nature has been left behind. Dr. S. Klopfer (2010), an associate professor at Georgetown University, summarizes the Separate Baptist Isaac Backus when she says that “…it [baptism] was an act of the believer’s personal freedom, a voluntary confession, that Christ was the Liberator. Baptism was no mere symbol…but the act of a believer who found personal freedom in obedience to Christ.” (p.70). When a believer comes up from the water, they have new freedom in Christ Jesus. The old them—chained to different addiction, people, lifestyles, is gone. They are a new creation and have this public confession of who they are and where they stand.  There is a spiritual aspect to this baptism that is hard to describe, but definitely real. Dr. P. W. Williamson, a psychology professor at Henderson State University, and his colleague Dr. R. Hood, Jr. (2011), a psychology professor at the University of Nevada, did a study on spirit baptisms, and the effects thereof. They studied eight participants who were part of a 12-month drug rehabilitation program. They conducted a series of interviews after the participants were baptized. The responses were varied.  Some felt physical weakness, while in others there was a resurgence of energy spiritually. As one participant put it, “When it happened, I felt totally different on the inside. It was like something woke up inside me that had been asleep.” (p. 549). But all of them had a definite experience that was outside of the normal “feel good” emotion that humans have. All of
the participants said that they felt closer to God, that they had a definite connection with the Holy Spirit (p. 548).

     Baptism is more than just a physical act. It is a confession of one’s belief in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and it is a time when one can really begin to connect with God on a deeper spiritual level. The water—whether cold or hot—provides a venue for a spiritual cleansing to take place, and the physical dunk lines up with a spiritual death and rebirth. Kendra Rosenow was baptized just this past Easter. She describes the experience as quite an emotional experience. “Honestly it was so amazing for me.”  Rosenow recalls. She goes on to say that “I loved it so much it was perfect. The Holy Spirit was overwhelming and just—it was speech rendering!” (K. Rosenow, personal communication, October 22, 2013).  Kendra said that her relationship with Jesus had been improving, but much more from that point. It was definitely more than just something you should do. To finish what Paul proclaimed in Romans, “…And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may lead new lives.” (Romans 6:4b)

 

 

 

 This was an essay I wrote for my Written Communications II class. I thought you might enjoy it! 

 

References

Bouma-Prediger, S. (2012). Water in biblical reflection. Word & World, 32(1), 42-50.

Collins, J. C. (2012). What does baptism do for you? Part 2, additional studies. Presbyterian, 38(2), 74-98.

The Holy Bible (New Living Translation, 2nd ed.). (2007). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Foundation.

Klopfer, S. D. (2010). From personal salvation to personal baptism: The shaping influence of evangelical theology on baptism. Baptist History and Heritage, 45(3), 65-79.

Wiliamson, P. W., & Hood, R. W., Jr. (2011). Spirit baptism: A phenomenological study of religious experience. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 14(6), 543-559.

 

 

What Did You Say? Improving Your Listening Skills, Day 0: The Communication Improvement Plan

In my previous communication blog, I mentioned briefly how listening better will help me to not make misjudgments. Now, I am going to specifically look at the different points of listening, and I am going to try to become a better listener.

 The Problem: It’s not too much of a problem, but I would really like to become a better listener. I know that it is a good skill to develop, and I know that I do need some work on listening. I have trouble remembering things people say-and it does get me in trouble. 

The Goal: To become a better listener-to employ active listening skills more frequently, and to have a better memory of conversations. 

The Plan:

1. Make the shift from speaker to listener a complete one: When I’m in a conversation, I will be completely listening when I’m finished saying what I’m going to say-no interruptions.

2. Stay tuned in: I won’t tune people out when they are talking to me, no matter how much I think I know where things are going, or however many times I’ve heard the story.

3. Ask clarifying questions: When I don’t understand something, I’ll ask! Even if it’s because I haven’t been paying attention, I will ask questions to make sure I know what’s going on. 

The Measuring Stick: I will keep you updated on whether I think this is working or not! I promise to be honest. 

Communication Improvement Plan, Day 0-2: The Conclusion.

In conclusion: 
Did I achieve my goals? Did I become a better communicator? Did Superman save Metropolis?
Yes, on all three counts. 

A reminder of what I set out to do. I wanted to:
1)think before I speak
2)figure out why it is that I can’t communicate emotionally
3)get better at communicating emotions

 

     So, as to thinking before I speak-I am definitely more aware of the things that I say now. I think a lot more, especially in more stressful situations, about what I want to say. It’s helped a lot! I can honestly say I’m better at not jumping into things, foot in mouth, than I used to be. I do still occasionally mess up, but I am MUCH more cognizant of what I’m saying. It’s definitely gotten better. 
     Did I figure out why I can’t talk about my emotions? Somewhat, yes. I know that a lot of it has to do with an isolated past. I know that I don’t say no because I don’t like upsetting people. I know now that I speak in roundabout terms when I don’t want to deal with an issue. I think that this is something that requires a lot more reflection and thought than I’ve given it. But it’s a start. 
     Have I gotten better at communicating my emotions? Yes. I’m now in therapy (for different reasons) and it’s helped give me that outlet I need to just talk, freely. I’ve also been more open with people about what I really feel, and it’s helped. This, too, is something that will take a bit more time than has been allotted here. But this has definitely given me a great start. 

 

Overall, I think that I have definitely improved in the areas I wanted to. This has brought a lot of awareness to me about what I do wrong (and right). Going forward, I look to implement the skills I’ve learned on a regular basis.  

To be continued….