A millennial perspective on smartphones…

I am a member of Generation X.  I did not grow up in the era of smart phones.  I listened to an interesting debate today among my Millennial about the impacts of smartphones and social media on their relationships.    I know we’ve talked about this before, but I thought I’d share some thoughts:

Stop Flirting 

In 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 we are told: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hope and always perseveres.” The Scripture reminds us that keeping secrets, even if you are doing it online is deceptive. How would you feel if your spouse did this to you? If you feel an uncomfortable knot in your stomach, you have the answer! When our spouse fails to meet our emotional needs, we look to find another source. Using social media to fill the void will only fill your emotional tank up so much. You need to communicate with your partner, not flirt with an old friend on Facebook. Talk to your mate and explain that you feel a disconnection. “When communicating with your partner, if you have any doubt about what has just been said or you’re still not sure what is making your partner upset, ask,” Effective Communication Advice advised. Being open and honest will help clear the air and help find solutions to differences.

It Keeps You Connected to the Past

You already know this, but let’s be reminded that keeping up with your ex’s life is a no-no. Most likely your spouse will not be happy with this. Being friends with an old lover will not bring you any satisfaction in your current relationship. Plus, it helps avoid drama! We are told in Galatians 5:17 “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Avoid putting the relationship in harm’s way and unfriend your old boyfriends or girlfriends. Marriage requires trust and having a partner who is still connected to old relationships is not healthy. Put the past away for good and focus on your marriage.

It Becomes a Distraction

How annoying is it to talk with your spouse and they’re finger swiping through images, posting or reading articles on social media? Make it a point to take a break and unplug and talk with your spouse. Make sure your spouse knows that spending time with them is important. The Bible warned us about being selfish. Philippians 2:3-4 explained that to “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” When everything around us appears to be falling apart, find time for stillness, solitude and rest with each other. Use introspection to help guide you through moments of hardship in your relationship. Social media should be used as a bridge to connect with people. If you are living in the same house, and you’re both on social media, you’re wasting valuable time with each other to connect.

It Temps Us to Overshare

There is nothing wrong with sharing photos or posting updates on what you’re doing. However, we like to overshare things in our private lives. When it comes to our marriage, it is and should remain a private affair. But when you post their screw-ups on social media, it can be hurtful and damaging because there’s no filter for who they get shared with online. “Regardless of how cute you thought it was, your spouse may not want your mother or your college ex to know about it,” Aaron Anderson, a marriage and family therapist, said in an interview with the Huffington Post. Keep your spouse’s shortcomings behind the scenes and your fights offline because it can really backfire.

It Becomes a Substitute

Feelings are up and feelings are occasionally down. Don’t go by your feelings to determine your future. Look back and see how your emotions played a role in the inconsistencies in your marriage and pay attention to see if you go to social media for a jolt of happiness. If so, start to distance yourself from feelings that are negative and distracting you from making your marriage whole. If every thought you make toward your spouse is negative, replace it with a positive thought. You could cloud your think on how they leave their boxers on the floor or choose to acknowledge that they always pick you up something from the store. Social media can’t be your friend or your therapist when you’re feeling down.

 

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Guard Your Attitude

Received this devotional from Max Lucado this morning.  It is a good follow-up to  post about negative thinking….or at least I think so!

“It’s easy to forget who is the servant and who is to be served. The tool of distortion is one of Satan’s slyest.  When the focus is on yourself, you worry that your co-workers won’t appreciate you or your leaders will overwork you.  With time, your agenda becomes more important than God’s. You’re more concerned with presenting self than pleasing Him.  You may even find yourself doubting God’s judgment.

Remember Martha criticizing her sister Mary, “Lord don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work?  Tell her to help me” (Luke 10:40). What had Mary chosen?  She’d chosen to sit at the feet of Christ. God is more pleased with the quiet attention of a sincere servant than the noisy service of a sour one!

Guard your attitude. If you concern yourself with your neighbor’s talents, you’ll neglect your own. But if you concern yourself with yours, you could inspire both!”

Abandon Your Negative Attitude

The way we think has a tremendous amount of influence on our lives. Our thoughts can motivate us, make us mad, or even deceive us. We’ve all been there – someone else is talking to us and we’re wondering if they’re thinking we’re cute or if we’re good enough to be their friend. All the while, perhaps they’re thinking the same thing or they’re thinking about what’s for dinner!

Not only does negative thinking affect our marriages, it can also affect our performance in every part of our lives. When we criticize ourselves with negative thinking, our bodies lose much needed energy. This wasted energy keeps us from performing at our highest potential, which unfortunately, tends to keep the negative thinking going.

How do we abandon negative thinking? Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (NIV) We need to fill our minds with whatever is true and right that God puts before us each day. Is it easy? No. Is it something we have to work at each day? Yes!

Who are your prodigals?

We studied the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11:32) in church this past Sunday.   I found myself focused on the final two verses:

“My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

I made me wonder….

Am I that able to forgive the past in exchange for the present and the future?  We’ve all had those experiences where we’ve been hurt or taken advantage of by someone else.  Maybe those hurts remain fresh in our thoughts and hearts.  The prodigal son said to his father, “I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am not longer worthy to be called your son.”  The father accepted his son’s confession and choose to focus on the present rather than the past.

Aren’t we grateful that we have a Father that sees and has compassion for us?  Aren’t we grateful that our Father forgives our past and gives us the grace to become a new creation?

Who are the prodigals in your life?  Will your forgive them as God has forgiven you?

Searching for sea glass

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above” James 1: 17

Each trip to Cape Cod includes waking up early and hitting the beach before 5:30am to search for sea glass.  Sea glass is made when regular glass gets into the ocean. While finding a whole bottle may be preferable, one generally works with shards of broken glass. They wash into the sea, bang around for a few decades, and gradually get the edges rounded off and acquire a frosted appearance.  I’ve found that white and brown are the most common creating even more pleasure when you find green or blue.

It was my seventh summer walking the beaches near Brewster with my wife searching for the sometimes elusive treasure.  It’s just the two of us walking along the beach with only the sound of the water and the seagulls.  It has become my most favorite part of the week.

As we walk along – we find plenty of pieces that are not done.  It can feel like the unfinished pieces are ten times more plentiful than the finished treasures.  It does lead to moments of doubt and questioning why we are still out here walking around.  Wait…there it is.  Rounded edges.  Frosted.  It is beautiful.  It motivates you to keep walking.  It validates the effort and confirms the journey.

I’ve been reflecting this past week on those morning hunting trips.  It is easy to wonder how or even if God is executing His plan around us.  We can walk through life simply dealing with the unfinished.  It can be discouraging.  I would ask you to see the beauty that God has already place around you…the water, the birds, the sunrise, the loved ones.  God has place wonderful things along your path.  Take some time this week to see and appreciate them.

Taking the next step – a personal reflection

We’ve spent time talking about pursuing an Ephesians 5 marriage. We’ve talked about steps to loving our wives better. We’ve talked about communication, conflict resolution, forgiveness and patience. We have over 700 hundred posts on this blog to help improve and guide our approach as husbands.

And yet – why is it so difficult to implement these things? Isn’t it to our benefit? It all makes sense especially in the male mind…doing this equals this. Simple right?

It’s not. I’ve noticed that I have difficulty in the area of conflict resolution. I get defensive and allow my feelings control my reaction. I’ve gotten better at recognizing that I’ve reacted negatively and taking ownership….a huge improvement in how I’ve handled myself in the past. That said I still have much room for improvement. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could prevent a negative reaction from the start?

Check out Proverbs 11:27 – He who seeks good finds good will, but evil comes to him who searches for it.

It would be wonderful to seek out the intention of what is happening rather than jumping to conclusions based on what I perceive is happening.

Now look at 1 Corinthians 1:10 – I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

What would happen if we sought out good intentions even if the situation is difficult? What if “agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you” and being “united in mind and thought” meant that we wanted God’s best in the middle of a situation? What if we were both open to understanding that we are not perfect ourselves, and therefore might be wrong about what is occurring. What if we were open to hearing rather than just listening to what is being said. Open to finding a solution that centers our marriage on Christ. Being “open” to other people means that we can disagree without creating division. It can allow us to create the oneness and intimacy that God desires for our marriage.

We’ve talked about submission. Success at the next level requires submitting ourselves to God’s best first, and in doing so, submitting to peace, not battle, with our wives.

Give that some thought in your own marriage.

Be Strong. Act Like Men