- Out of Phase #1 – Being a Servant
- Out of Phase #2 – Boundaries
- Out of Phase #3 – Responsibilities
- Out of Phase #4 – Rules
- Out of Phase #5 – Emotions
- Out of Phase #6 – Work
- Out of Phase #7 – Christian Quips
- Out of Phase #8 – Reasons & Responsibilities
- Out of Phase #9 – Religion
- Out of Phase #10 – Enough
- Out of Phase #11 – Retreat
- Out of Phase #12 – Healthy Relationships
- Out of Phase #13 – Words
- Out of Phase #14 – Depth and Breadth – Impact
- Out of Phase #15 – Control
- Out of Phase #16 – Tradition
- Out of Phase #17 – Pain
- Out of Phase #18 – Our Story
- Out of Phase #19 – Peace
- Out of Phase #20 – Hopes, Dreams & Desires
- Out of Phase #21 – Good Things Bad Things
- Out of Phase #22 – Keeping our Focus
- Out of Phase #23 – Transactions
- Out of Phase #24 – Formula
- Out of Phase #25 – Community
I have often gotten hung on principle. Sometimes sidetracked, other times stopped dead in my tracks because something wasn’t the way it should be. The older I get the more I realize life is seldom convenient and situations are almost always less than ideal. For me it’s rarely subpar circumstances that knock my focus out of phase. To my recollection it has always been relational. Someone goes back on their word, takes advantage of you, manipulates you, says one thing and does another, is divisive, dishonest, or overly presumptuous, or is in some other way less than principled; all of these situations and more have knocked me out of phase.
To lower the bar of expectation and hold someone to less of a standard feels to me as though I am distrusting, cynical, or even jaded. However, through our many disappointments, frustrations, and even heartbreaks my wife and I have coined a phrase: “let people be people.”
Said another way, love people where they are and not where they should be, because none of us are where we should be.
I wrote in one of the earlier Out of Phase blogs about the need for boundaries. The older I get the more I have learned to function under a few understandings in regard to relationships. These understandings have helped me know a greater sense of peace both internally and relationally.
- Be vulnerable in small ways Having a deeper level of friendship requires a deeper level of trust; to trust more deeply requires a willingness to be increasingly more vulnerable. This takes time, which requires patience, but a relationship that endures will require both.
- Trust but verify. If there is some sort of gut check or red flag it is ok to verify in order to build trust. If someone is offended by this that is likely all the verification that is needed.
- Boundaries for me were difficult to discern – especially when as follower of Jesus we are told to “love our enemies.” I have come to understand what healthy boundaries look like by one of life’s best teachers – failure. Like many other examples in life we serve the wrong thing. When boundaries are needed we can mistakenly assume we must serve the boundaries, but in reality, the boundaries serve us. When we learn to love others – even our enemies – in a healthy way we do not have to fret over what boundaries to establish—they will become self evident.
Here is a personal example: There are people in my life with whom I very much desire to be closer. I have tried and have gotten burned ultimately because I was trying to make the relationship something it wasn’t. I was trying to make it what I wanted it to be—which was consistent with the communication but not the actions of those about whom I am writing. Once I learned to engage in a way that would keep my desires and emotions from being manipulated the boundaries become clear and I realized they had been there all along, I had just tried to move them because it “wasn’t the way it should be.”
- This point flows right into the last. When we learn to recognize and live with the boundaries that are currently in place, sometimes – over time – they can move (re: point number one). However, I have found these first three points allow for any pressure of expectation to be released and we can learn to function in the freedom of what the relationship is and not what it should be. We are not responsible for changing hearts, we are simply responsible to love. When relationships are out of phase it is likely a result of us trying to ignore the boundaries that are in place, which puts undue pressure on us to be better or do more and also puts pressure on others to be something or someone they may be unwilling to be.
Unfortunately, living with this is no guarantee of having a relationship at all. People do have free will and that often means they are free to walk away. However, when we have a heart that is focused on truly loving people, we learn to live without the burden of guilt for not living up to the image of the person we – or they – wish we could be. It also allows us the freedom to embrace them with true love and compassion if they return.