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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Five (5) Communication skills that may help you avoid a total meltdown... or navigate one if it's unavoidable.

Communication skills that may help you avoid a total meltdown... or navigate it if it's unavoidable. 


NO HIDING: Communication Breakdowns


As I reflect on the NO HIDING Journey, the problems all resulted from not talking. Every relationship breakdown I've ever had came from one or both parties walling off and shutting down.

Every relationship (romantic, friendship, colleague, etc)  I've found healing and restoration in, involved talking, and lots of it. The wounds had to be uncovered and acknowledged and healed. But communication is hard.

So what are some tools we can use to navigate these situations?


Photo by Fred Moon on Unsplash


The Breakdown:


For one reason or another, I've seen communication breakdowns this year, several. In each instance, the breakdown was similar, the other party walled off and disappeared, I got defensive, communication stopped. It's happened with a few people, and each of them had similar personality types and backgrounds with each other, which is something I'll pay attention for in the future.

I asked myself if it is a reflection on me? Is this a sign something is wrong with me?

The answer is yes and no.

Yes: Could I have done better? Sure. Absolutely. We could all improve.

No. The answer isn't that something is wrong with me. My identity is secure.

If someone walls off and goes away, that's about them and not about you. But there may be things you could have done differently and do differently next time.


Five (5) Keys to Communication Breakdowns and Recoveries:


1. Communication is about making sure the hearer understands you.


Do your best to communicate the issues. However, remember that the issues are rarely the issues. It's not about who didn't call, or what dishes were left where. The issues are feelings. Emotions.

Try this:

When you___, I felt___, is that what you meant to communicate?

If they respond well, you can discuss those feelings and come to a resolution.

However, be prepared for the other party not to know how to respond. Telling someone that they hurt you may cause them to wall off and defend themselves, feeling attacked.

If they run, don't chase them. Proceed to point number 2.


2. Communication is often a "less is more" proposition.


If you can't say it simply, you don't understand it well enough. (attributed to Albert Einstein).

If you can find a way to use fewer words, do so. Maybe don't even try adding more explanation unless you're asked for it. Your attempts to clarify, clarify, clarify may drive them further underground. Overwhelmed with your words.

Wait it out. Say nothing. If you've said what can be said and they're not engaged, back away. Let them sort it out on their own. Depending on the closeness of the relationship, this may look different in different circumstances.

You could send a nudge now and then, see if they're willing to come to the table. But don't force your way into their space. That's you violating their boundaries.

If they never come back, you've either lost a friend, or you're preparing for divorce, or whatever. That's about them, not you. You tried.

If they come back, repeat step one. Or, try step 3.


3. Communication is two way. Seek to understand rather than be understood. 


If you've tried to communicate your feelings and they are completely non-responsive. They may be having their own feelings they need to process. Try understanding their feelings and not focusing on yours for the moment.

Your feelings must be addressed. If the other party refuses to address your feelings, they are selfish (and probably a narcissist) and you should cut your losses and move on.

However, you may find them more receptive if they aren't feeling so defensive. I did not do this with one friendship and it is now effectively terminated. It's too far gone to resurrect, I think. But another friendship was resurrected by using this principle.

It sounds something like this:

"I think I hear you saying, that when I (or he/they)____, you felt___. Am I understanding you correctly?" 
If no, ask for clarification. 
If yes, "Tell me more about that."

If the party engages in this, and you've met their emotional needs, you may find them more receptive to meeting yours. You could, eventually, go back to step one.

If all these fail, and you are still dealing with a walled-off individual, you move to step 4.


4. Communication is a community effort.


Get others involved in the situation. Bring it before the group and let other outsiders help fix things.

A. Get Help:

  • Seek professional outside assistance. If it's a life-partner (spouse), you could try counseling with a third party. A Licenced Marriage and Family Therapist LMFT or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), can provide you professional assistance in communication, healing wounds, and working on moving forward. 
  • Seek non-professional outside assistance. Maybe it's not worth all that for this small argument. But maybe getting a pastor or friend to sit with you both could help get a detached third party's perspective and they could help you each see what the other is saying.

Note: Every couple should have a professional marital counselor. Your pastor doesn't count unless he's also a licensed counselor. You should have a pastoral counselor too, but it's not the same. I would say this is even more important than having a primary care physician, dentist, or chiropractor. It's an essential for good mental health for individuals and couples. 


B. Walk Away: Draw The Boundary

If you've tried principles 1-3, and you've tried to get help and it either didn't work or they didn't want to try:
  • You walk away. 
  • You don't let walking away dictate messages to you about your value or worth. 

In two of my situations this year, #4 either wasn't an option or I didn't see a way to make it an option at the time. Maybe it would have gone differently, I'll never know.

5. Communication failure is not a reflection on your identity. 


If, for any reason, you came to the point you've decided there is no benefit to continuing to try, you walk away and don't look back. This isn't mean or cold, it's just good boundaries. It's healthy and right.

You are best served by not doing this in anger. In fact, you should do your best to walk through forgiveness and attempt reconciliation before coming to this point.

If you can calmly evaluate the situation and you see no way to move forward, you are at an impasse. In that case, it is perfectly acceptable to walk away from the table. Either temporarily or permanently.

When you do, don't allow the enemy of your heart to assign a value proposition to you regarding this decision.

In other words, this decision doesn't mean you are a failure or that you failed. It doesn't even necessarily mean the other party failed. It simply means that for this moment in time, the combination of your individual decisions has resulted in an impasse.

In an effort to value your own heart, walk away.

  • Don't keep trying. 
  • Don't look back. 
  • Don't accept their efforts to try again either, unless there is something substantially different that would indicate real progress (principles 1-4) is possible. 

When this happens, there is a danger that you feel you are being rejected. Marshall Burtcher says it this way:

[I can't believe they'd throw it all away like that!  I feel devastated!  It is like I've lost myself...]  The Discard Trauma.  It is THE thing we work so, so hard to avoid.  It is the one reason we develop people-pleasing and codependent habits.  We need to prevent the discard from happening. And when it does, it. is. crushing.  We feel hollowed out.  It is like someone came in and scooped out our worth and sense of self and ran away with it, leaving us in a frozen, terrified state. Continue Reading... Facebook: Healing Codependency & Trauma with Marshall Burtcher

The fact is, this was not a reflection on your value or worth, it was a communication breakdown between two parties with two wills.

It may have been a failure of your communication skills at the time, or the other party's, or both. But that is just a learning curve, skills are not value. You'll do better with the next human because you learned here.

Don't allow this breakdown, this discard, to assign a negative value to your heart. You did the best you could with the tools you had.

Don't take responsibility for them either. Let the other party be responsible for their side of the road too, and you walk away free of guilt and shame.

Any mistakes by either side are under the blood of Christ, walk away guilt and shame-free.

Keep these tools for the next time (and there will be a next time, with someone), and maybe it'll go better with the next human.


What about you? Comment below. 


Which of these steps would have (or has) created a new way of thinking about communication failures?




 

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


Friday, December 13, 2019

NO HIDING is a building I keep remodeling, better each time... today, let's talk about Completions (7) and New Beginnings (8).

You don't always have to have all the answers but you have to be willing to keep searching for them. 


My path to arrive at the NO HIDING lifestyle wasn't direct, at all! It involved a lot of scavenger hunting for Truth. Without the clues and signs along the way, I'd have probably stopped a long time ago.

It's finally occurred to me: the journey won't ever be over, it's a life-long pursuit.


Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

What does it mean to ask, seek, and knock?


Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7 English Standard Version


The scripture makes it sound so simple, doesn't it? Need something? Just ask! Seek, you'll find it. Knock, doors will fly open for you. But it never actually works that way, does it?

Jesus goes on in that same message to talk about good fruit vs bad fruit, narrow path vs wide path, and he ends by discussing two houses, one built on the sand and one built on the stone. 

Notice: BOTH houses endured the same storm. 

Building a house on The Rock was no guarantee that storms would not come, in fact, building the house on The Rock was in preparation for the storms he promised would come. 

The NO HIDING Lifestyle is a building I keep having to rebuild. 


My NO HIDING Lifestyle culminated with this motto in 2017... but it really started in earnest in 2013 and I can see traces of it back further. I've been pressing in for some of these answers for decades. 

It often seemed like the bottom was falling out just as I would happen upon another Truth that would lift me back up and take me to a higher place for a period of time. 

I noticed that I didn't seek as hard when times were good. And maybe that's one of the reasons they didn't stay as good for as long. Who knows. 

Every time a storm came, I could see what materials I'd been using to build that can't last. It would shake loose the trashy construction and I'd be left with the solid stuff I had built earlier. Each re-build was stronger and more durable than the last. I found that with each successive rebuild, the storms caused less damage, even if they were bigger storms. 

It seems fitting that I quote Matthew 7:7 today, as I just discovered that today is 17 months and 17 days since I became a Widower and my life was shattered. But the lessons she taught me helped me walk through this season and come out stronger, not weaker. 

On January 7, 2020 (late into the evening of January 6, 2017), it will be three years since I began this NO HIDING journey. It was after a season of hardship that we learned this Truth that set us free.

I made a change that involved a friendship on December 7 & 8. It was the end of one era and the beginning of a new era for our friendship. We remain good friends, just differently now as we pursue other things and our journeys diverge. I believe we'll both be the richer for this change. 

Special Numbers 7/8
  • 7 is the number of completion.
  • 8 is the number of new beginnings 

There's been a prophetic regularity to those numbers in my life this month. Completion and New Beginnings. The boys and I are even starting a new hobby together this Christmas. 


What about you? Comment below:

  • What has your path to NO HIDING looked like? How did you have to change to become more authentic?
  • What things are coming to Completion for you?
  • What things are starting as New Beginnings for you?



 

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


Thursday, December 12, 2019

You need a mission partner. Men you are not her hero, women you are not a damsel in distress. You are co-heros on a mission together.

I Can Love You Like That... and other hero-codependency issues. 


I've been humming this song incessantly lately... when I finally looked up the lyrics, I realized how unhealthy they actually are.

Song: "I Can Love You Like That", lyrics by azlyrics.com


Photo by King Lip on Unsplash


We are looking for our Co-Heros


I used to have these dreams about being Superman. I dreamt that I could fly and even eventually got the suit and cape. It was a recurring dream most of my life. I still have that dream sometimes. When I got older and started longing for a partner, I found my dream started to include another person.

You know who was not in that dream? Louis Lane. I didn't want a doe-eyed reporter.

No. That part of the dream was of a fellow flyer, in blue and red, cape and all. Superwoman.

We flew together. Our adventures were possible (I knew instinctively) because we were cut from the same cloth, we were on a mission, equally empowered, fighting the same enemies with similar tools. Balancing each other's strengths but coming at the world from a symbiotic perspective.

If I ever have a partner again, she must have the same je ne sais quoi that I have. She must be of my tribe or clan.

This all got me re-thinking those lyrics I'd been humming all week.

Here's where I think the lyrics go drastically wrong and set us up for failure.


Women: You don't need anyone to rescue you. You need a mission partner.

They read you Cinderella, You hoped it would come true, That one day your Prince Charming, Would come rescue you...


I'm not saying that you don't want to be led well. Even my feminist friends tell me they want a strong man who leads well. But you don't need a rescuer.

You are a whole and complete person by yourself. You have value, worth, and strength of your own.

You have enemies of your own and the tools to fight those enemies inherent within you.

And all this time that you've been waiting, You don't have to wait no more

Don't be waiting around for him to come. Stop waiting. Go live your life. Find your mission. Find your calling, gifting, and passion. Do you. Keep your eyes open for him to join you in your cause, but have a cause for him to join.

Aimlessness is unattractive for both sides. If you want a high caliber partner, be on a mission so he knows if you are going the same direction and engaged in the same battle. You can partner together.


Men: You are not her savior, you are her partner. She is not your world, you are not hers, she needs a world-mission-vision to partner with.


I can love you like that, I will make you my world... I would give you my heart, Be all that you need


If you are constantly running to damsels in distress, being her codependent hero, you will always have distress to solve. She'll always be in distress. You will always be rescuing her. She will create distress to get your attention when you are not paying enough attention.

(almost) Never rescue anyone from their own choices. Go buy Boundaries (affiliate link), by Dr's Townsend and Cloud if you don't already understand why.

You don't need someone to rescue. She doesn't need you to codependently make her your world. She wants to join you in your adventure, not be your adventure herself.

In Wild at Heart (affiliate link), John Eldredge wakes us men up to the yearning in our souls for adventure. I believe it was in this book (could have been one of his others), John helps us see that she doesn't want to BE our adventure and focus, she wants to come alongside of us ON the adventure, together.

When I heard a good friend recently tell me about what caught her heart, she described how the man had similar passions and vision and she could see them working together to solve the problems they both care about in this world.

That's a mission-driven, outward-focused, partnership.


Mission-Driven Marriage: On a mission together



In the Building a StoryBrand podcast, Episode #178: How You and Your Family Can Live a Richer Story in 2020, Donald Miller discusses the importance of having a clear mission for your family. It doesn't have to be a life-long mission. Mission statements can be short-term. But they must be clear and compelling and drive action. This mission, he says, keeps us from becoming stagnant in our lives; where day runs into day with no higher meaning or purpose.

When you have a mission, you are not facing each other, which can lead to intimacy short term but also leads to fault finding and bickering. You are facing out, together, shoulder-to-shoulder, facing a common enemy. 

When you are mission-driven, you will be happier, healthier, and more focused on the future than the present. More focused on why tomorrow matters. You move from surviving to thriving. This is true as individuals as well as families. 

In this paradigm, nobody is being rescued. Nobody is being a rescuer. You are co-heros, on a journey in your joint story, on mission together, fighting a common enemy. 

One pastor friend told me that the goal of a marriage is that each partner is facing the other, but focused on the world around them, able to see the enemies coming from behind their partner that they themselves cannot see. 

Hint: Men, next time your wife (significant other) tries to point out something you are missing, don't feel attacked. That's her God-given ability to see something attacking you that you are not seeing. Feel grateful for her observations, they may have just saved your life. 


On a personal note:

As a man, I have no way of knowing if you are my potential future partner if you are not on a mission of your own. I don't know if we are fighting the same enemies with the same goals. 

Men, how will your woman know if you are on the adventure she wants to join if you aren't already on it?


Your turn: Comment below


What's your mission? What drives you? If you are waiting around for a partner to start, STOP THAT! Go get on a mission, and find your partner on the journey. 



 

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ



Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Lies. Blindness. Denial. Blame. Filters of Brokenness.

Sometimes you can be so blinded by the lies in your head, that you can't even see or hear reality. 


Sometimes the filters you see the world through cause you to miss each other, and neither of you is hearing what the other is trying to say.

Photo by Devin Avery on Unsplash


When this happens, you begin to ascribe meaning and motives to events that aren't there. You believe someone is attacking you when they aren't. Every shadow is a demon out to get you.

I've lived it. I've watched others live it. I think we're all in one form of denial or another about something at any given moment.

It's easier to blame others for your pain than accept the truth, much of it didn't even happen the way you imagined it in your head.

To those with whom I argued, accused, blamed, and yelled at, or whose phones I blew up with verbal vomit...

I apologize. It wasn't really you. It was me. I was the one with a broken filter, and I needed to get fixed.

It's possible that some of it was you, but even then, I take responsibility for my side.

If you ever read this, I'm sorry for the pain I caused you while I was struggling.

Go Be Amazing!


 

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

I kissed dating, hello! Revolutionize your dating life by realizing: "dating" and "relationship" are not the same thing,

Stop Spouse Hunting!


I was asked by a friend to summarize the dating advice/plan I learned from "How To Get A Date Worth Keeping: Be Dating In Six Months Or Your Money Back" (affiliate link), by Dr. Henry Cloud.

She said it would be helpful to get the gist of what the mindset shift is and why. The following summary is limited to the basic but fundamental mindset shift I went through and helped her go through. Once you understand this one simple shift, it radically changes everything about how you date, and it takes all the pressure off to "find a spouse".

That mindset shift is this: Dating and a Relationship are NOT the same thing. 

Photo by Darrell Wolfe, my personal collection.
Photo by Darrell Wolfe, my personal collection.
"How To Get A Date Worth Keeping: Be Dating In Six Months Or Your Money Back" (affiliate link)

Note: The original "Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life" (affiliate link), really should be read before you read How to Get a Date Worth Keeping. It sets the larger context and stage for what it means to live in a healthy community and relationship with other humans of all kinds. Once you have a handle on Boundaries, then move on to the other books in any order you prefer. 


Disclaimer:


There's WAY more to this book than I could possibly explain in a blog post (it took a whole book to say it). There is more background, a hundred why-behinds, more steps, a detailed step-by-step plan, examples and real-life stories, etc... the book is linked in this post. Read it!

That being said, at a 1,000-foot view, here's the bottom line.

We are using dating and relationship interchangeably, and they're not the same, nor should they be. Dating and Relationship are two different things, even if you go on dates while in a relationship. 

The ultimate goal is a relationship, but not with every person you date, not immediately. 

The purpose of Dating is to help you grow, help the other people grow, and discover things about yourself and others that you want to avoid or take into the next relationship.


0. Phase Zero: Throw away your list. You are not spouse shopping.


That's right. Although the ultimate goal, down the road, is to get married, the dating phase is not about hunting for a spouse. Not by a long shot. In fact, without the dating phase, you are most likely to choose the wrong spouse, if you find one at all.

If you have a list of your "perfect mate", you will avoid everyone who isn't checking off your list. You will get so pigeonholed, that you will miss the one God has for you. Let's just assume that your picker is broken or you'd be married already to a great spouse you are happy with.

The dating phase is where you heal and grow and learn about people.


1. Phase One: Dating at least six months, NO COMMITMENTS. 


Date as many people as possible without misleading them (be open about it) but without committing to any one person.

A date is: go out, do a thing with a person, go home. New and Interesting people and experiences. Then leave them alone. You can go out again with them, but...

A date is NOT: texting each other constantly, checking in to see how they are, good morning and goodnight texts, cutsie back and forths, dropping by for no reason. These are romance behaviors and do not belong in the dating phase.

The dating phase is intended for a person to go on dates with as many people as possible,  build awareness of the types of people available, character traits that people have you like and those you cannot accept, and it helps you reveal to yourself areas, responses and character issues you need to work on.

During this phase, you are growing as a person and helping others grow. You may even be the first person to show someone they should be raising their own standards and you helped them see that by being a safe space for the to learn. And they are showing you traits and characteristics you either cannot live with or never knew were available.

The opposite of dating non-exclusively for a period of time is "serial-daters" who basically run from one serious relationship to another without taking a significant time between to date casually. This is almost always a sign of an emotionally unhealthy individual who needs healing. This is where I was before reading these books.

By the end of this phase, you can make a new list. This time it is not what kinds of things he/she likes to do, eat, or wear... but a list of characteristics and character traits that you believe would be important in a future spouse. Make a list of deal-breakers, must-haves, and just wants. The book explains the difference in lists.


2. Phase Two: Relationship


Eventually, you find a person you would like to date exclusively, and this person agrees.

You've thought both logically (evaluated them as you would a candidate for a job, and made sure to run red flags past your friends and mentors) as well as emotionally (how do I feel about this person and about myself when I'm with them).

If your logic and emotions agree, and certain prerequisites you determined during the dating phase are met, and of this person agrees, you move to exclusively date each other.

All manner of marriage questions should be discussed, and you get to know each other. This is the "what if" questions, not the "will you" questions.

Exclusive dating should be 12-18 months before engagement is planned seriously. But by about 18 months, the relationship should either be moving toward engagement or it's probably time to end it. This timeframe is a general rule of thumb, not a specific hard line. Each person and couple is different.


3. Phase Three: Engagement


If you and this person both feel sure you want to commit for life, you move to engagement.

You:

  • Read marriage books together
  • Attend conferences.
  • See a premarital Counselor (who's job should be to talk you out of it, because if he/she pushes and uncovers everything and you still want to proceed, then it's real).
  • Solicit LOTS of feedback from friends and family to make sure you are not making a mistake.
  • Plan the wedding but more importantly, plan the marriage. 

Since you've spent all the prep time, there need be no specific timeframe here. Maybe 2-6 months is a good starting place.


Conclusion:


Throughout all these phases, You ASK FOR feedback from friends and mentors and pastors. You make sure you LISTEN to what they say.

Don't dismiss their feedback as "you just don't understand". Take anything anyone says seriously. Even if they're wrong, ask yourself if they're seeing something you're unwilling to see.

Get married, keep dating, keep going to marriage conferences, keep working at it with drive and purpose. You don't get to settle once you get rings, that's when the real work starts.

If you regret it, you probably didn't follow this process or ask for enough feedback.


Click here to order from amazon:

"How To Get A Date Worth Keeping: Be Dating In Six Months Or Your Money Back" (affiliate link), by Dr. Henry Cloud.


Your Turn: Comment on the post below.

Marrieds: What was your experience? How would this have changed things for you if you didn't do it this way?

Singles: Did anything in this post suprise you? What do you think about changing the way you tink about dating?



 

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


Sunday, December 8, 2019

Three (3) ways God speaks to us, setting us free with his Truth.

NO HIDING: Lies are poison to LIFE. You cannot live with lies, you can only die by them. 


In this article, we discuss how lies are only ever negative, how truth actually sets you free, and how to hear God so you can gain access to new levels of freedom.

Photo shared on Facebook by Safe Sheep: Church Abuse Awareness
May also be first created at Me.Me

Unlearning Wound's Lies


As we go through life, the enemy works overtime to sell us his lies. Due to our own woundedness and the woundedness of others, we begin to accept certain lies, bad theology, and unproductive paradigms (ways of seeing the world).

Sometimes it can be tempting to think of these lies as "self-protective", but in reality they are self-harm. There is no actual protection in them. We did develop them to protect ourselves, yes. But in reality, they are not protecting us (they never were) they are killing us, slowly poisoning us.

I myself have been faced with this dread:

If I give up this lie, what awful ugly truth will I have to face? I don't think I'll survive if I had to face that truth. I'd probably kill myself. 
And yet... That "truth" is another lie.

If you believe the "truth" beneath the lie would kill you, then that "truth" you think you see is itself another layer of lies. Discovering truth is incapable of killing you.

Truth has only one outcome: FREEDOM


The Truth Will Make Your Free


As we heal from those lie-wounds, we must unlearn many things and replace them with Truths of God that set us free.

If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples. 32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32 Emphasis Added

True Freedom (wholeness, healing, joy, clarity) only comes from first accepting and then walking out Truth in replacement of the lies. And True-Truth only comes from being bathed in God's Word. But notice the IF statement.

IF you continue in my word... THEN you will know... AND the truth will set you free. 

Abiding in The Word is the pre-requisite to knowing Truth, which is the pre-requisite to being Free.


What that doesn't mean: Read Your Bible and Pray More (a better Knowledge of Good, wrong tree)

The Pharisees proved that men can read "the Bible" and be no closer to the Truth than an ape is to writing a doctoral thesis. Reading your Bible is no guarantee that you will know the truth. Reciting a list of special requests and hoping they broke the cloud barrier isn't going to help you know the truth either.


What that does mean: Spend time with Jesus (The Word Himself) (Tree of Life)

Spending actual time with the actual, living, ever-present, Jesus is the answer. Jesus is the Living Word of God. Until the Father's words are spoken by Jesus through the Holy Spirit into your heart, where they come alive inside of you... you are a dead piece of wood, not a living tree.

When the Holy Spirit speaks a Truth into your heart, your eyes open, as though scales fell off of them. You see for the first time. You see the lie for what it really is.


Three Common Ways God Speaks:


1. The Written Word (Bible)

Didn't I just say the Bible isn't it? Sort of. The Bible is not the Word of God, it contains the Word of God. It is perfect, inerrant, infallible, untampered with. There are no errors or mistakes in the Bible. However, if God isn't speaking his Word to you, it's a life-less dead book in your hands. So open the Bible, but this time instead of studying it like a religious text, try this... say out loud:

Daddy (God)(Pappa), you always have something to say, what do you want to say today?

Then read as you feel led. If you have no special leading, just start somewhere, or where you left off. But keep paying attention to you gut. What's sticking out to you? Have you read the same sentence a few times? Sit and chew on that. Let it soak. See what He might be saying.


2. Community (People)

God uses people. When you wall yourself off from people, ignore wise counsel, go after what you want even after you've been warned by people who love you... pain is coming. Pastors, Mentors, Parents, Friends, Counselors, Acquaintances at Church, even little kids in a grocery tore aisle, could all be used to speak something into your heart.

Be mindful of the things you heart. Not every lesson is for you. Not every lesson is for now. Not everything everyone says is God. But if you start to notice a pattern? If a lot of people are saying similar things? If several people made observations you didn't want to hear? God's probably trying to tell you something.


3. Other (a bunch of other ways). 

God's BIG. Really big. He can speak a language that only you speak because he speaks your heart's cry. God Speaks Darrell. He speaks Connor, Preston, Bob, Debbie, JoAnn, Mike, Theresa, Shandra, Melissa, (insert your name here).

He could speak to you through an eagle flying in the sky, the last leaf hanging on a branch, a phrase you keep seeing repeated in writing, from people, everywhere you look.

He has a billion-plus ways of getting you to notice he's speaking. The only things He refuses to do are override your Free Will (he won't do it, he paid the blood of Jesus to leave that choice up to you) and he won't yell over you. He won't barge in. He will wait to be invited.

Stop.

Be Present.

God's speaking.

That speaking leads to TRUTH.

That Truth leads to FREEDOM.


Your Turn: Comment on this post


Are there any lies or bad theology that you've picked up that you are holding on to because you think they protect you from a greater truth? 


 

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


Saturday, December 7, 2019

Breakthrough comes in stages... but may not look the way you wanted it to.

Breakthrough doesn't usually come as a pretty little package, wrapped in a bow, all you asked for and more and nothing you didn't.


Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash

Let's define Breakthrough:


Breakthrough: is when you've been holding out hope for a change and that change finally comes.

Sometimes breakthrough doesn't look like what you thought it would, what you hoped it would, and it may not even feel great. But it's still profound and important and you need to pause and be grateful for it, more on that in a moment.


When Breakthrough doesn't look like Breakthrough:


  • You've been asking God for a certain schedule and dollars/hour. When you finally get an offer for a new schedule, it's not the hours or days you wanted, but it's still better than what you had. 
  • You've been struggling to balance school, work, family, and it's come to the breaking point. It's literally costing you your health but you don't see a way out. Every goal feels important. Finally, a financial setback forces you out of school with no way to return soon. The struggle is over, one of the plates stopped spinning. But it crashed to the floor. 
  • You've been struggling in your marriage and it ended, one way or another. The struggle is over, but not like you wanted. 
  • You've been trying to figure out how you were going to afford the oil change and your car was totaled the day before you were going to take it in. 

These are just a few ways that the situation changed. But not the way you expected. Sure, sometimes breakthrough comes with all the things you wanted and more things you didn't know you should be asking for, and it comes fully supplied for the future. But let's face it, that's not usually how it comes...

So what do you do when the breakthrough came in a less than an ideal package?

Be Thankful!

Celebrate awkward breakthrough, it's only step one:

That awkward, less than ideal breakthrough, may be forcing you to make a change you didn't know you needed to make or didn't want to see.

Or, it may be just the first signs of the ultimate breakthrough. As the Bible says, first the blade, then the ear, then the full kernel in the ear... maybe this was just the first step towards the ultimate thing.

Maybe this unexpected breakthrough is taking you in a wildly new direction that you'll be excited about upon arrival but from this end of the journey doesn't look like anything positive.

You won't know until you get fully to the other side.

While you wait for the final outcome, in the meantime, be grateful! 

Find a reason to be thankful. If not for the thing that caused it, then be grateful that God is using this ugly thing anyway to take you where you need to go.


Your Turn: Comment Below


Have you had a situation you needed out of change, but in a way you didn't like at first? How did it turn out later?  

Are there things happening right now that you don't like, but could they prepare you for something you want?



 

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


Friday, December 6, 2019

What if being vulnerable and authentic was the key to breakthrough leadership?

This is going to be a short post. Tonight I listened to the BuildingAStoryBrand Podcast, Episode 20:

Click Here > 6 Characteristics that Will Make You an Emotionally Strong Leader 
INTERVIEW WITH MILES ADCOX, hosted by DONALD MILLER
Image from: http://buildingastorybrand.com/episode-20/

Synopsis:


In a book I read earlier this summer, The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World (affiliate link), Author and Pastor Peter Scazzero discusses his journey to becoming Emotionally Healthy. He shows us the hard truth that if you build a successful business or ministry but fail to develop an emotionally healthy spirituality and leadership, you are still a failure.
How many times do we have to hear about a high powered business leader or church leader falling out of grace, losing their family or health, before we will accept that emotional health is the number one success indicator we should be striving for?

In this podcast episode, Miles and Donald discuss the system Miles uses in his own business to build an emotionally healthy culture and an environment where mistakes are high fived.
He describes the ANCHOR method for developing emotional fitness.

ANCHOR:

  • Authenticity
  • Nurturing
  • Courageous
  • Humility
  • Open
  • Resilient
For more details, read the show notes or listen to the podcast (here).


My takeaways...


What impressed me was a thing he did with other leaders that few dare to do. They created a closed system in which everyone felt comfortable sharing their darkest struggles (think A.A. for CEOs) and got vulnerable with each other.


This reminds me of the men's bible study I attended back in Fort Worth (Hey Rudy/Eric!). We had half on purpose half on accident created an environment where men felt accepted and able to be vulnerable. This created a catalyst for change.

As I experienced with my group, Miles experienced with his, and any group of people committed to NO HIDING (such as Al-Anon or A.A. groups) experience, a culture of being open and vulnerable creates the environment where you can bring things to the light so they get handled right.

In that NO HIDING environment, you are changed from the inside out. Not through effort but through letting the darkness out and the light in. It happens while you're not paying attention, in the unexpected moments, in the consistently showing up.

It was refreshing to hear another group of men having this same experience in a different context but similar environment.

I suggest you listen to this powerful episode.


***
Side Note: Check out this amazing organization dedicated to help fight human trafficking. 


The owner was interviewed at the end of Episode 20 of the Building a Story Brand podcast.
***

Your Turn:

Can you recall an instance where being vulnerable with another human or group of humans lead to a powerful change in you? Was it the change you expected?


 

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


Thursday, December 5, 2019

Four (4) steps you can take to end negative obsessive thoughts in your marriage/relationships and heal them once and for all.

End negative obsession in your marriage or relationships. 


Yesterday I wrote (here) about what it is to be obsessed over a person or situation, from the perspective of loss.

You lose a spouse to death (the ultimate loss), a break-up, something is lost via theft, or you lose a job or ministry. These lead to Valid Pain as well as Lie-Driven Pain. The lie-driven pain leads to obsession.

As I discussed this today with a good friend, I realized there is another layer to uncover here.

Obsession within the relationship. I'm going to use a marriage example but it could be within any relationship (parent/child, employer/employee, etc.).


Photo by Road Trip with Raj on Unsplash



Obsession within Relationship


Over the years, I found myself obsessed with what my wife and kids were or weren't.

  • They always...
  • They never... 
  • If only they...
  • Why won't they...
  • Why do they...
  • I wish they'd just...
As we discussed yesterday, obsession is always about you and never about them. Obsession is your emotional hunger-pangs. It's telling you that you are lacking in some profound way, that you have valid emotional needs that are not being met. 

Unhealthy Response to Obsession: Escape Pain's Fruit


As a result of these types of obsessive thoughts, we often turn to things that help us numb the pain. These could be things like:
  • Workaholism
  • Binging Netflix/Hulu
  • Excessive Shopping
  • Alcohol/Drugs/Substances
  • Pornography/Illicit Relationships
  • Overeating / Undereating (control)
These are a few of the more common examples, but any number of other behaviors could be used as "escapism".

Humans will do anything to avoid or escape pain. 

Some people look at addicts and say "how can that drug be so powerful that they would leave their job and family for a high?"; truth is they aren't going to the drug for the "high" they are going because they are in pain (physical, emotional, psychological) and they are using that drug to escape pain. 


Clue: If at any point, you are obsessed with what someone else is or isn't doing for/to you; you are obsessing. This is a sign that you have unmet emotional needs. Rather than turning to escapism, there is another way.

Healthy Response to Obsession: Heal Pain's Root


1. Find the unmet emotional need

Even the apparent need for "sex" that causes men (and women) to turn to pornography, isn't actually a physical need. The needs that drive us to self-destructive behaviors are emotional needs. 

They are things like value, worth, identity, and meaning. They drive questions such as:
  • Am I worthy?
  • Am I enough?
  • Am I lovely?
  • Do I have what it takes?
  • If I reveal this, will you reject me?
  • Will you abandon me? Discard me?
  • Am I wanted, desired, appreciated, loved?
  • I want to be seen and heard, known and loved.
These kinds of unmet emotional needs are the driving force behind our obsession. Like a movie makes us cry, giving us access to an emotional reaction, the "movie" of what we want or don't want from our relationships can replay over and over like a broken record. But the real thing this tells us isn't about what they do or don't do for us, it's about our own need. It's telling us we have an unmet emotional need. 

So what are we to do with that?


2. Expose that need within safe-community. 

If you and your person (spouse, child, boss, friend) are in a good safe relationship, you can bring it directly to them. But for many, they may not feel safe to take it to that person yet. 

Find at least one other human being (pastor, counselor, support group, close-confidante friend) who you know and trust will be safe with your vulnerability, and share this discovery with them. That might sound like this:

"I've been obsessed over my marriage. Constantly thinking about what he/she is (and isn't) doing for me. I've spent some time sitting with that and I realized that this means I'm having unmet emotional needs. I don't feel ___need goes here (valued, wanted, known)___. I wanted someone safe to discuss this with."

Once you have found safe community, you can move on to getting that need met. 



3. Find safe-community and get that need met. 

Warning, Safe Community Is Not an Affair: This doesn't mean to get the need met by another woman (or man) in the office outside of your marriage. This doesn't mean to leave the relationship because this other person isn't doing for you what you need done. This is not an advocation for an affair. In fact, an affair would fall under an unhealthy category (escapism). It doesn't deal with the real issue, it simply allows you to escape that pain for a period of time, then compounds the fracture and makes it worse.

Safe community is a place where you can be open and vulnerable without fear of judgment or reprisal, where you're value and needs can be met without negative consequences.

Safe Community could be any combination of:

  • Friends
  • Counselors
  • Pastors
  • Support Groups 
The goal would be that they will hear you without judgment and help you see the truth. You are valued, wanted, desired, and cared for. You are enough. You are loved. And none of this is about whether another human loves you or not.


4. Find your identity outside of anyone's opinion.

You need to know in your deepest heart that Your Daddy Is Proud of You! That has to be the ultimate place of healing.

As long as your identity is based in an external locus (coming from outside of you, what others tell you), it will always be subject to the situation. You're value and felt-needs will ebb and flow with the people around you, their mood. People are imperfect. Situations change. Your value cannot be based on the outside.

Inside Out: Your value must come from what you know to be true about you because your Daddy (God) has spoken it to your heart. 

When you have an internal locus of value, you change the atmosphere of the room and your relationships; rather, than your room or relationships changing your value.

Back to Comunity: And most often, when we are in pain, we cannot hear God's voice speaking to us through the noise. We need a community to remind us what He says about us and point us to our true value.

Note: If you don't know Jesus (the ultimate source of your identity), if you don't know LIFE Himself, click here


Your Turn: Comment on this post


Have you found yourself obsessing over things inside your relationships/marriage? 
What could that tell you about the unmet emotional needs you have? 
How could you find a safe, healthy, community to meet those unmet needs?



 

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Why does this hurt SO bad?

Have you ever been obsessed with a person or situation?

Have you ever found yourself hurting more than you expected, for longer then you expected, and you find yourself nearly obsessing over a person or situation because of it? The scene replays over and over in your head like a broken record.


Photo by Elena Taranenko on Unsplash



This type of intense emotional pain can be a signal that something is not okay inside, but it probably has nothing to do with the person or situation you are obsessing over.

There are two types of emotional pain to address here:

  1. Valid: Pain associated with loss.
  2. Lies: Pain associated with the things we tell ourselves about an event. 
Wrapped up in these are a host of emotions. You may be wishing you could control the outcome, control the person, make it come out the way you want it to. 

The Truth will set you FREE

Dealing with Valid Loss:


Some of this pain is valid. You experienced a real loss. You are grieving something you had and lost or something you hoped for and didn't get.

This is called "grief". You must process through this grief and release that dream. It hurts. It sucks.

It's something you can recover from, if you process well.

Time doesn't heal this wound by itself. Time for lies to worm their way into your soul will make you more sick the longer it goes on. Time combined with purposeful healing in a safe community will bring you through that period of grief with a new life on the other side.

Time*Lies*Isolation=Toxic Death.  
Time*Truth*Community=New Life

The bigger the loss, the more time it could take to recover and work through the ramifications of that loss. You may need to get some alone time with God, go out to coffee with a friend, pick up the phone and call someone, even make an appointment with your Mental Health Professional.

Dealing with Lies:


The other pain is caused by lies. These are identity-based thoughts. 
  1. What does this mean about me?
  2. Am I unworthy of...?
  3. Am I not enough?
  4. If only she/he would... 
  5. How dare they treat me this way!
  6. He/She doesn't deserve...
  7. He/She is only/always/never...
Frankly, the hardest and most rewarding lesson I've learned this year is that these kinds of obsessive thoughts are not about the other person/situation at all. 


Pain is a Signal:


Just as the pain of a skinned knee is telling you that a wound has occurred and you need to fix it, or the pangs of hunger tell you to eat... these obsessive thoughts are here to tell you that a valid emotional need is going unmet. 

Like a movie may give you access to your emotions and help you cry, this person/situation is giving you insight into the needs you have that are going unmet. 

It was really fun, refreshing to be raw and vulnerable, I liked who I was when I was with her/him. 

When I worked for X Company or with Y Ministry, I felt important and I mattered. 

Now it's gone. It hurts. It's not really about him/her/it, it's about you. It's about the emotional need you have. 

So the two questions to ask yourself is: 

What do I see in him/her/situation that reflects an unmet need in me?

How can I get that need met in a healthy way in healthy community, elsewhere?

Then you can release him/her/situation and focus on finding healthier places to get that valid emotional need met in a safe, healthy, community. There are things that need specific answers.

It's true, certain things you hope for may not come without a spouse. But many aspects of the intimacy of the heart, accountability, enjoyable interactions, and more you hope for can be met with safe friends and community.

Your Turn:


Think about something you've been obsessing over, you don't have to say what it is. But what could you learn about your own unmet emotional needs from reviewing why you are obsessing over it? How could you meet those needs in healthier and more constructive ways in healthy community?




 

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


Tuesday, December 3, 2019

What if you suddenly had what you've been asking for... would you be too scared to take it?

How fear of romantic commitment can teach us to bravely embrace all the opportunities life offers:


On the surface, you'll say no. Of course not. That's silly. Why would I not take the very thing I've been asking for?

Then when the possibility of that thing starts becoming real... so do the questions.


  • Am I enough?
  • Do I have what it takes?
  • Can I really do this?
  • What if I fail?
  • What if they see I was just bluffing all along, I'm not really good enough to do this.
  • What if they see the real me and reject me?
  • Fill in the blank with your self-doubt here... we all have it.

I had a realization today about romance that I hope will help you take the leap on preparing for your next big thing, whatever it may be.

I chose this photo because it represents where I am... she's out there, somewhere, faceless, and calling me into a new adventure, and she is tugging because I'm terrified of following her to that precipice.

Photo by Alvin Mahmudov on Unsplash

Have you ever been scared of success?


Have you ever come face to face with the thing you wanted, then realized you were too frightened to take it?

I was once the top pick for a job in a leadership role and pulled my application because I was terrified of getting hired and then realizing I didn't have what it takes to lead. It took me several years and a move to a different building to get that opportunity again.

Recently, two separate individuals in two sperate instances have given me prophetic words; "God has a wife for you".

At first, I brushed off the comments. I'm starting to like my single life (never thought I'd say that) and the idea of starting over isn't as appealing as it once was. I think "I had my chance at love, let me just raise my boys now and write and work on school". In my first 17 months as a Widower, I fooled around with two counterfeit relationships I thought would be serious contenders and then realized later they were just empty promises. In both cases, I find myself SO grateful they didn't work out. I can see in hindsight that they would have been disastrous for me and my boys. Good women, but not good for me.

Then as I prayed about those two individuals giving me the exact same sentence, word-for-word, I heard God say: "Don't put that down". I inferred the meaning to be that I was getting relaxed in my singleness but he didn't want me to lay down that dream. Keep praying for her. Keep praying about her. Keep praying for my kids and her kids. Etc.

Then on the way home tonight, the realization that I really do have a wife waiting in the wings. She's just around the bend, another few rounds of self-improvement, another few invites to random events, she'll be there one day.

The start of our story will begin...

And it terrified me. 

Self-Sabotage


When I realized that real intimacy, closeness, aliveness was actually still really possible... not in a "safe" relationship that I can control but in a real, vulnerable, open, NO HIDING way... I got scared.

What if I never live up to her expectations? What if I just end up failing again? What if it's just a trap anyway and I'm better off single forever?

These thoughts led to; "Maybe I should just stay over-weight and broken because then she won't want me and I'll stay safe. No Risk..."


Overcoming Lying to Yourself


The fact is, all of those things are possible. I could fail. I probably won't live up to her expectations. I will have days, guaranteed, that I will wonder if getting married again was a good idea. And so will she.

None of that matters.

If I'm committed to NO HIDING; then I owe it to her, my kids, myself, and to God to work on me. 

If we're both equally committed to NO HIDING with God, and pursuing Him even when we don't feel like it, then we are giving ourselves the best chance of success.

Those things are half-truths.

Half-truths are whole-LIES. 

The other side of the coin is a possible future in which I've grown because I purposefully dealt with my stuff, and she's grown because she purposefully dealt with her stuff, and we were ordained of God to meet for a such a time as this because we can do more together than alone.

NO HIDING is the key to self-doubt and self-sabotage. 

This is just an example. You could be running from your calling in life, a leadership opportunity, an opportunity to find your life partner, an opportunity to raise your kids like a real father, the opportunity to start a business... There could be a thousand scenarios in which you are being called to rise up to the challenge and you are scared that you don't have enough, so you want to shrink back.

Once you identify that the thing holding you back is a lie, probably built on top of another lie... you can own your truth. 

My truth: I am a different man today than I was when I became a Widower. I am a much different man today than I was the two years and five years prior to becoming a Widower. The man I am today, I'm proud of because my Daddy is proud of me. This man is ready to keep growing, pushing, and developing and one day, he'll be ready to meet someone and be a blessing to her and her family, as she will be to me and mine.

The truth is... our story doesn't begin when I meet her. It begins right now. By my deciding to rise up to the challenge and continue to push forward. 

Your Turn: Comment below

What lie is holding you back, making you shrink back, from your opportunity?

What Truth would God replace it with?

If you commit to NO HIDING and bring it to his light, it can get handled right, and then you can push forward to your next opportunity to succeed. 



 

Shalom: Live Long and Prosper!
Darrell Wolfe (DG Wolfe)
Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant @ DarrellWolfe.com

Clifton StrengthsFinder: Intellection, Learner, Ideation, Achiever, Input
16Personalities (Myers-Briggs Type): INFJ


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