Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

crossLast week, we heard about a co-pilot purposely taking down a plane with 150 people on board. In a moment, lives were lost.

One moment, a passenger was laughing with a fellow travel and the next, he was diving straight into the side of a mountain. Another was cuddling her child, then screams brought recognition of impending doom.

In a strange way, the tragedy focused my thoughts on this Holy Week. From palm branches waiving, people shouting, “ Hosanna” during the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, to the night Jesus was betrayed and later hung on the cross, much changed for His followers. Elation gave way to despair. The Christ suffered and was put to death. What must the witnesses thought?

Did they give in to momentary despair like the people in the airline must have done? Or did they try to remain optimistic, recalling the prophetic words of Christ and the Scriptures? In the natural, all appeared to be lost. The cup of suffering was not removed.

Philip Yancey, in his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, points out that when Christ gave breath to his last words, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” He used the word, “God” instead of “Abba” or “Father”. Christ felt abandoned from the Father during His darkest hour.

When tragedy strikes, that same sense of momentary abandonment is felt. But in the spiritual realm, the darkness of Good Friday eventually gives way to the light of Easter morning. Yancey says, Easter holds out the promise of reversibility. Destruction and even death can be reversed because of what Christ accomplished on the Cross. Easter is the starting point. It is a preview of an ultimate reality. Our present lives are the contradiction of what is to come.

So as the families of the German flight passengers try to make sense of senseless tragedy, and the rest of us struggle through our emotional “wreckage ”, Easter brings hope. If God could do what He did on Easter, then what more does He have for us eternally? Easter is a glimpse of eternity.

Yancey points out that the physical scars Christ suffered remained on His transformed body as a reminder that painful memories may never completely go away, but the hurt of those scars eventually will.  As we rebuild our lives from devastating times, remember that Holy Week reminds us that someday, we all get a new start. Tears will be gone. Suffering will be no more.

And that is the hope of the Resurrection.

ID-100165304Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, a glorious day in the church. We celebrated Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. I learned that the donkey was symbolic of a king coming in peaceful power. A King who goes to war would have ridden in on a warhorse. A King who comes in peace rides a donkey. Jesus came in peace.

In Luke 19:38, people were shouting, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” They recognized him as their King, that is, until he didn’t meet their expectations.

In the mind of the Jews, a king would overthrow the ruling Romans and take authority, but Jesus told them to pay their taxes and that the temple would be destroyed. This is not what the people wanted to hear. They did not want to be under Roman rule.

Jesus didn’t say what they wanted to hear or do. He wasn’t meeting their expectations and they turned on him. They were angry and decided he didn’t do what a king should do.

So the question for us is, do we do the same? When Jesus doesn’t meet our expectations, do we become disillusioned, angry, and decide not to follow him? When tragedy hits, do we feel he has abandoned us? Do we easily give up and not trust his plan for us?

Like the Jews, when Jesus doesn’t meet OUR expectations, we don’t see him as King of all. We don’t trust that He is who he says he is. We can give up on the relationship and start doing things in our power.

Today, determine to trust God in your life. Remember he has the big picture and is in control.

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If you’ve taken the FREE quiz on my website, drlindahelps.com, you know your conflict style–avoider, reactor or negotiator. Now the issue is, does your style match with those with whom you are intimate? What happens when there is a mismatch of styles, e.g., you avoid and the other person reacts?

Conflict can get stuck! The problem hits a stalemate or it doesn’t get resolved.

In order to work with different styles of conflict, we need to learn to accommodate and make a few modifications in our own styles. Remember, styles are typically learned in your original families. That means, they can be unlearned or modified.

If you avoid and you are with a reactor, you develop the classic pursue-distance pattern in a relationship. Avoiders need to understand what the reactor is feeling and give space for the person to express those feelings. This means avoiders have to become more comfortable with emotional expression, especially negative emotions. The best way to do this is to tolerate your anxiety around hearing about the issue. Don’t distance, stay in the dialogue.

The reactor needs to be aware of how uncomfortable this if for the avoider and make efforts to calmly present their emotions and not overwhelm the avoider. This means taking the intensity down a notch. Pray, do some deep-breathing, take a time out and collect yourself. This helps the avoider stay in the conflict and push to bring up issues.

If you are a reactor with a negotiator, agree that emotion is important, but needs to be controlled. Negotiators must pay attention to the emotions of others. Conflict is not just a head thing, but a heart issue for many of us.

For mismatches, think about your style and how you can accommodate the other with a few modifications like pushing yourself to address problems or staying calm during a conflict. These modifications will make conflict a much easy process to resolve.

black man workingIn the same way a drug addict uses cocaine or an alcoholic downs booze, work can have an anesthetizing effect on negative emotions. People use work to escape and avoid unpleasant emotional states. But because hard work is so sanctioned in our society, it is an addiction often minimized.

Our once sacred days of rest have vanished as malls and superstores stay open during Shabbot and Sundays. Technology invades our home life. Solicitors assault us during the dinner hour. And the boundary between work and home is blurred by balckberries, faxes, cell phones and computers. This instant communiqué turns our play to work and our home fronts to alternate work sites.

How do you know if you are simply a hard worker or a workaholic? Ask yourself these questions:

1) Do you view work as a haven rather than a necessity or obligation?

2) Does work obliterate all other areas of your life?

3) Can you make the transition from the office to the Little League game without guilt and constant thinking of what you need to do?

4) Do you have work scattered all over your home?

5) Do you regularly break commitments to family and friends because of deadlines and work commitments?

6) Do you get an adrenaline rush from meeting impossible deadlines?

7) Are you preoccupied with work no matter what you do?

8) Do you work long after your co-workers are finished?

If your answers are “Yes” to most of these questions, it’s time to reevaluate your love for work and cut back. Workaholism can bring emotional estrangement and withdrawal in your relationships. In the worse case, it can even lead to separation and divorce.

If you think you may be a workaholic, acknowledge the problem. Then, begin making small changes that limit work hours. Get active with your family. Turn off electronics and be unavailable for work during certain hours of the day. Leave the office at a reasonable time even if your work isn’t perfect or completely finished.

Even though you may be rewarded at the work place for your obsessive efforts, your family needs you, not more work. And as the well-known saying goes, “I’ve never met a dying person who regretted not spending more time at the office!”