Cold Shoulder / Silent Treatment

Giving the lens the cold shoulder

I know how to give the most vicious, wicked “cold shoulder” and “silent treatment” (CS/ST). I activate CS/ST when someone does something to upset me. Sometimes, the people on the receiving end are caught off guard because they have no clue why I am upset with them. This bewilderment makes CS/ST especially effective in its caustic damage. Also, CS/ST makes me feel powerful. I indulge in a crazed, cruel pleasure in hurting people.

The above paragraph is a confession. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed” (James 5:16). I’m confessing to you and every person with access to the World Wide Web how malicious I have been and still can be.

***

I have many job titles: teacher, editor, budget manager, house cleaner. Chauffeur is one of my favorite titles. I don’t consider driving my sons to their various activities a tedious chore but a pleasure. I actually like taking them to art school or the library or track practice.

“Don’t worry if practice runs late,” I tell my son. “I always have a book with me, so I’ll read in the car.” I have even dropped him off at an hour-long event and stayed there, taking advantage of a full hour of reading or writing time, instead of going home.

But in one case, I gave him 12:15 as a firm pick-up time. He misunderstood and thought I meant I’d be there at 12:15 but, as in other cases, would read a book and wait if he ran late.

Not only did I have no book, but my other son was with me, and we had other errands to run in a short time. At 12:45, after waiting and working myself up to a fuming (but silent) rage, I went into the building to get him.

He had no idea.

I activated my CS/ST at full throttle.

He tried pleasantly chatting about his time with the teachers at the event. I answered curtly: “Oh.”

We went to drop off recycles. I opened the door to get the recycles out of the trunk, and he said, “Do you want me to help?”

I pretended not to hear him and shut the car door without reply. Silent treatment. Caustic.

Next stop: Goodwill, to discard unwanted books and clothes. The same thing happened there: “Should I get out and help?” he asked.

Cold shoulder. Icy silence.

Final stop: pick up Dad after his soccer game at the park. The game was not yet over when we arrived, so the poor kid was trapped in close quarters with his mother emanating shock waves of malice. I am an expert in CS/ST tactics.

How could I have been so cruel to my own child? If he were two or three years old instead of a high school senior, he would have been traumatized and in need of counseling. Not until hours later did I explain why I was angry. Not until days later did I finally apologize and repent.

When my husband and I married, we spoke our own vows in addition to the traditional ones (for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health). One of our custom vows: “To be honest and open with one another in an attitude of love and humility.”

In other words, don’t hold grudges. Talk it through instead.

Ann Kroeker recently offered her readers 6 Questions to Ask Yourself. Question #3 is “How do I need to change?”

I need to change by shedding my CS/ST habit and the deranged satisfaction I get from the “power” it gives me. There is far more power in love and humility.

What is the opposite of Cold Shoulder? Leaning toward the person in conflict. Pressing past cruelty’s false sense of superiority and control. Asking myself, as a friend advised, “What’s really important here?” Putting the relationship before my selfishness.

What is the opposite of Silent Treatment? Quick communication about what’s bothering me. Being honest and open, with an attitude of love and humility.

God, help me to change.

———-

Click to tweet: There is far more power in love and humility.

For The High Calling community writing theme: Reconciliation at Work. UPDATE: This post was featured at The High Calling.

Also, don’t miss Glynn Young’s perspective on Change at The High Calling.

Photo credit: Juhan Sonin via Flickr Creative Commons

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Running Uphill

For The High Calling community link-up topic: How do you pursue God? One way I pursue God is by obeying Him—and when I pursue Him this way, His blessings pursue me!

How about you? Submit your own story on pursuing God by October 4!

UPDATE: This post was featured at The High Calling. Join me there.

pursuegodlinkup

Over the 2009 holidays I fed my belly with lumpia, atole, chocolate cake—everything that came out of my kitchen.

I overindulged. Something had to change.

Two days after Christmas, I started running every day. We live on a hill, so those first days I ran half a block (downhill) and walked half a block (uphill), three times. Three times around the block wasn’t much.

Still, each day built on the one before. Eventually, I worked up from almost-negligible to three miles a day. I still go slowly, but I go.

A couple of years after I started running, someone close to me had hurt me. That Wednesday and Thursday, I was raging. I fed my heart with too much bitterness, resentment, hatred—everything I allowed to come out of my heart.

I overindulged in anger. Something had to change.

As I jogged that angry Wednesday I asked God my standard question that works for any circumstance: “Father, how do You want me to respond?” When I pray like this, I often get no neon sign, no immediate answer.

But this time it was immediate, in big, flashing neon:
Love her.

Impossible, I thought, feeling my upper lip wrinkle. IM-POSS-I-BLE.

Yet I chose to remember God’s works in my past. (The remembering was crucial.) I prayed out loud in faith: God, I remember years ago when I thought it was impossible to forgive Ben. But you did the impossible and helped me forgive in that relationship. I believe you can do it again, in this relationship. (I spoke these words with my vocal cords, but inside I thought, Yeah, right.)

I turned left, up Centennial Blvd (the steepest part of my running route). God brought to mind the run with endurance verses. I felt my leg muscles pushing off the pavement, steadily. There was a time, though, when I refused even to attempt that route, turning right instead of left because there was no way I could run up that hill.

extreme uphill portion
But one day I tried it, and it was hard. I repeated it every day, and the hill became not only possible but no longer difficult.

This brought new meaning to the phrase “run with endurance.” If I would try loving her just once, and build up my endurance by repeating loving acts, then rather than seeming impossible, it would actually no longer be difficult. It would eventually become easy—as Jesus said His yoke would be.

In order to “run with endurance,” I first had to … start running.

The biblical “run with endurance” doesn’t happen at the first attempt; it happens over time, when I run over and over. Running with endurance doesn’t mean I can wake up in the morning and, if I set my jaw firmly enough, I can finish any race, whether marathon or hundred-meter dash. Endurance doesn’t come instantly. Endurance has to be built up.

The transformative process is always done little by little, small obediences over and over.
– Jean Fleming

I turned to do the steep uphill in this relationship. My first act of obedience was to call her on the phone. A little later, I called her again simply to ask, “How are you?” I kept running up the hill, showing her acts of love, because my Father told me to love her.

Now, I don’t consider this a hard path. Not anymore.

———-

Photo credit: djfrantic, via Flickr Creative Commons

Don’t Touch That Stove!

A poem after Ann Voskamp’s recent tweet on bitterness:

“Holding on to bitterness is like holding a flame in your own hand and wondering why you feel burned.”
– Ann Voskamp

Don’t Touch That Stove!

You who taught your children
to keep away from the stove—
why does your own hand
reach for the burner
and even carry the very flame
that scorches your palm,
now blistering? Quick!
Run to the sink. Turn
the faucet full blast.
Open your hand
under cold running water.
Break a leaf from the aloe,
slice it lenghtwise, lay its healing
thickness, cut side down,
on your palm. Close your fingers
and press the soothing fruit
to absorb into the burn. This
is what you should hold.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
(Ephesians 4:31)

An excellent article on forgiveness by Mark D. Roberts: How Can I Forgive Someone Who Doesn’t Admit to Having Done Anything Wrong?

Tennis Lessons

Daily Shoot 10.18.10 [Spherical/Curved]

What coach taught me:
When you serve, step up
to the line, bounce the ball

three times, and pause
for that calming breath—those habits,
those rituals will keep you

consistent. Toss the ball in a straight
vertical, to the highest point
of your reach. Keep looking up

even after you hit the ball.
Don’t get caught flat-footed. Stay alert
on the balls of your feet. Split-step as soon

as the ball zooms at you. If the ball is out,
call it out. Hit the ball on the rise
so it won’t continue on its

natural trajectory.
And keep up your
mental game.

Serve

Photo credits:
Tennis ball photo by Marie Coleman, via flickr creative commons.
“Serve” photo by mirsasha, via flickr creative commons.

A Crown Like That

ti leaf head lei by lanietuu

With this crown
how can I not
but dance

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion.

(Psalm 103:2-4)

(Photo credit: lanietuu)

Running with Endurance (How Jogging Helped Me Love)

Two days after Christmas, 2009. I fed my belly with too much lumpia, atole, chocolate cake…

I overindulged. Something had to change. That’s when I started running every day.

We live at the top of the hill, so those first days I ran half a block (downhill) and walked half a block (uphill), three times. Three times around the block wasn’t much. Still, each day built on the one before. Eventually I started running all the way to Oak Valley Ranch Park (a whopping quarter-mile—downhill), around the park some, and then back home (walking).

The momentous day I tried running uphill, I think I was “running” as fast as I walk. But I did it and did it the next day, too.

I’ve been running daily for more than two years now, working up from almost-negligible, to three miles a day. I still go slowly, but I go.

Earlier this year, someone close to me had hurt me. I was angry like a mad dog. That Wednesday and Thursday were the most raging days I could remember. I fed my heart with too much bitterness, resentment, near-hatred (or, if I dare to admit, just plain straight-out hatred)…

I overindulged in anger. Something had to change.

When I jog, it’s always a pray-run. As I jogged that angry Wednesday I asked God my standard question that works for any circumstance. It is a standing prayer: “Father, how do You want me to respond?” When I pray like this, I often get no neon sign, no immediate answer.

But this time it was immediate, in big, flashing neon:
Love her.

Impossible, I thought, feeling my upper lip wrinkle. IM-POSS-I-BLE.

Yet I chose to remember God’s works in my past, and the remembering was crucial. Though I felt the opposite inside, I prayed out loud in faith: God, I remember years ago when I thought it was impossible to forgive Daly. But you did the impossible and helped me forgive in that relationship. I believe you can do it again, in this relationship. (I spoke these words with my vocal cords, but inside I thought, yeah, right.)

I turned left, up Centennial Blvd (the steepest part of my running route). God brought to mind the run with endurance verses. I felt my leg muscles pushing off the pavement, steadily, and I realized I no longer consider that steep part difficult. There was a time, though, when I refused even to attempt that route, turning right instead of left because there was no way I could run up that hill.

But one day I tried it, and it was hard. After doing it every time it was not only possible but, beyond that, no longer difficult.

This brought new meaning to the phrase “run with endurance.” If I would try loving her just once, then, as I build up my endurance, repeating loving acts, then rather than seeming impossible, it would actually no longer be difficult. It would eventually become easy (the yoke of Jesus is like that).

In order to “run with endurance,” I first had to … start running.

Run a little now, and a little more tomorrow, and the endurance will keep building. The biblical run with endurance doesn’t happen at the first attempt; it happens over time, when I run over and over. It doesn’t mean I can wake up in the morning and, if I set my jaw firmly enough with a bullet between my teeth, I can finish any race, whether marathon or hundred-meter dash. Endurance is built up, not instant.

The transformative process is always done little by little, small obediences over and over.
Jean Fleming

I turned left to do the steep uphill in this relationship. My first act of obedience was to call her on the phone. A little later, I called her again simply to ask, “How are you?” I kept running up the hill, showing her acts of love, because my Father told me to love her.

It occurs to me that, now, I don’t consider this a hard path. Not anymore.

Father, thank you for teaching me how to run with endurance. Get me started in the areas I still haven’t tried the hill. Keep me going in the areas I have.

…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…
(Hebrews 12:1-2)

(Linking with Ann Voskamp, who hosts a community of those who share about Love. Click on the Holy Experience badge below to read more posts on Love!)