Love games., and how to play them

dr gary davis, clueless, love, christian, amherst, communication, games, love gamesLOVE GAMES. We’ve all played them at one time or another. Not something I’m proud to admit; but I have too.

We learn to play love games because we’ve been hurt, wounded. We learn to not trust, to not be open, to guard ourselves. We play them because we want to protect ourselves, our hearts, from further pain. Nothing wrong with that!?! At first. But after a while we grow a shell around our souls, like the crust on an apple pie; just not as tasty.

In marriage, partners guard their love, withhold their deepest fears and desires from the other. In business, we learn to play our cards close to our chest, revealing just enough that will still allow us to hold the upper hand. It’s business; not personal. With friends, we might dare confide, unless we have been betrayed before. After that, no one really knows us. We always hold something back.

We even play love games with God. We pretend to serve Him when we are secretly seeking recognition for our own actions. We give to the poor in a shielded, cautious manner, making sure we don’t forfeit our own safety or security. Or indulgences. Sacrifice?!? That’s a whole ‘nother conversation.

Love Games are a part of life. We use them to protect ourselves. At some point, though, they can dominate our souls and shut out the world so thoroughly that we trap ourselves within our own fortress.

Is there any way to safeguard ourselves within this self-imposed isolation, these ostensibly compulsory love games? Well, yes…, but you will have to work hard. Here are some ideas for you to bring your best to your love games—

  1. NEVER be real with yourself. There are real dangers in discovering a deeper understanding of who you really are. Best to remain content with your fanciful projection of yourself.
  2. NEVER lose control. You must regulate everything around you. Leave no variance in your realities. Surprise is your enemy.
  3. NEVER trust others, especially your fellow workmates. They may gain your complete confidence in the beginning, but be careful; they will outshine you in time. That is exactly what you don’t want. NEVER enable people to become better than you.
  4. Above all else, DO NOT TRUST GOD! To do so puts you in too precarious a position. You never know what He is going to do with you or your situation. Letting go of the game to give God control over your life is a very risky move.  Trusting God will make your life and livelihood far more exciting in the long run, but do not be concerned with that. Better to stay safe now than to trust your future to some unknown God.
  5. MAINTAIN YOUR JUDGMENTS OF OTHERS. TRUE, they are not designed to be like YOU. They are inferior. Above all else you MUST win. It is not your job to empower lesser people to succeed.
  6. NEVER TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH. Subtleties, nuances, and innuendoes will do just fine and enhance your odds of winning the game.  Always withhold something. NEVER reveal all:  NEVER say what you actually mean.
  7. NEVER CONCERN YOURSELF ABOUT WHO YOU ARE BECOMING; just play the game and blend in until it is time for you to take control. Taking the time to evaluate and recalculate your direction is a waste of your time.

Still want to keep playing love games? Maybe…, maybe not? Tune in for our next discussion.

NEXT DISCUSSION:  Escaping Love Games.

 Your turn…,

Gary

BEYOND WORDS – Take 6 – A Receiver Determined Offering

Gary, davis, church, Christianity, culture, faithIn this edition of Beyond Words (Take 6) we will limit our observations to the recipients of our message— the billions of “normal people” across our country and world who span the gamut from cursory familiarity with the gospel to complete cluelessness about anything Christian.

To communicate our message to the diversity of people around the world we need to know their language, their cultural underpinnings, their mores and beliefs. Most missionaries know this. We need to know the extent to which their religious beliefs affect their daily lives. Some may adhere to a particular religion but hold no dedication to that faith whatsoever.

We especially need to know about peoples’ past experiences with the Christian faith— both positive and negative. Some people have had truly terrible encounters with our own “jerks4Jesus” set. Their prejudice seethes deep within. Others were raised in the church and have come to doubt the trustworthiness of any so-called Christians. Still more have had great encounters with Christians and have not ruled out Christianity as a viable guide for life, but…, not just yet.

Then there are differences in the way people perceive life; logical, artistic, as a responsibility, as a game, as a calling, etc. Science prone individuals are not going to put up with a simple gospel; for them, life is full of order and complexity. An artist will want a gospel with vibrancy and life to it. A mother of three— a gospel with some relief and rest. A builder will need to hear a Jesus who is practical that makes common sense.

So if you are asked “What is the gospel?” the correct initial response should be “For Who?” Not that you have to BE all these kinds of people, but at least you should LISTEN to them to understand their world a little better.

Peoples’ life experiences play a huge role in how they will respond to Christianity as a faith, and to individual Christians they may know. They may have already developed their own predispositions to who we are and what we say. To ignore their life experiences is to place your agenda of the gospel over against what God may have been doing in their lives for a long time.

The Truth never changes; but our job is to offer the crux of Christ’s message within the context of their life experiences, where they are on their journey…, not ours. Never forget that.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

perspicuous


perspicuous 
per-SPIK-yoo-uhs, adjective:

  1. Clearly expressed or presented; lucid.
  2. Perspicacious.

Perspicuous stems from the Latin perspicere meaning “to look or see through.”

[http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perspicuous]

One of the primary barriers to clear communication is our own inability to be clear, to express our thoughts and ideas clearly, to be precise & lucid, when describing or defining something. Our culture has grown lazy with words; thus the constant query, you know what I mean? Or, the abbreviated— um. The average high school vocabulary level is between 6,000 – 45,000 words. College graduates up that to 50,000 – 75,000 words. Post-grads use between 75,000 – 120,000 words.

[http://atkinsbookshelf.wordpress.com/tag/how-many-words-in-the-average-persons-vocabulary/] [http://www.adlit.org/adlit_101/improving_literacy_instruction_in_your_school/vocabulary/]

[note:  William Shakespeare (1564-1616) used approximately 30,000 words; he invented 600 words in Hamlet alone, and introduced over 20,000 words into the English common vocabulary.]

Our inability to explain or describe things accurately has numerous effects on our society. For one, we are unable to convey the most important experiences in our lives due to our limited vocabulary. Another effect is our decreasing ability to simply say what we mean, or to write what we mean. Don’t believe it? Check t he norml email and tri to fil in th blanks. And do not try to blame it on spel checkr. We are in the era of LOL, TMI and acronyms for everything. C?

But a more serious problem arises out of our seeming lack of skill with clear communication; that being—  our inability to 1) clearly define what we see in another person’s life, and 2) to accurately see into our own lives. A paucity of precise words naturally leads to difficulty in defining our perceptions.  We must resign ourselves to a mere sense about another, rather than a rich comprehension of who they truly are. Inversely, a lack of words to define what we want to say limits us from knowing and describing our deeper selves. In critical moments, this produces an aggravating frustration within us. We simply cannot put our finger on who we are, or where we are in life, or what describes us in our deeper, core level.

Let’s go back to the Latin roots of our word— perspicere; “to look or see through.” If we remain lazy about delving deeply into ourselves, how will we ever see through the walls of protection erected by those around us? Maybe if we started being deeply honest with ourselves, possibly bouncing our insights off of a trusted friend, we would be granted the gift of being able to see more clearly into the lives of others.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

in your face

People who get in your face don’t give you much room. You are certainly not allowed to interrupt. Horrors! In no uncertain terms, any thought of actually contradicting them is totally out of the question. Even a simple interjection is too much for them to handle.

So, they talk. And talk. And talk. If you dare interrupt, they simply talk louder, and/or faster. Why? They have to stay in control; they have to take the dominant position and hang on to it tenaciously. You do not matter; you have nothing to say which interests them. They have all the information they need; they are right; and when they want your opinion they will tell you what it is.

You’re being “preached-at,” scolded, berated, and cornered. I see this most in husband/wife relationships, and between insecure bosses and their employees.

Throughout life there will be those who cross our paths who must dominate, control, assume authority, and come at us, for no more apparent reason other than they believe they are smarter and more right, than we are. In fact, they never truly discover who we are: they just don’t care about it.

How do we handle such people? Unless we really have to go to the bathroom, we truly just stand there as they browbeat us. My best advice? Humility. Let them unload whatever it is on their mind. We recently had a repairman in our home that was passionate about his Christian faith. He may have been excited, but we were left no room to respond. It was a one way conversation.

I hate being preached at. Whether it is some Christian trying to convert me to his point of view, a philosopher-type endeavoring to drive home a universal point of “Meaning,” or a Telemarketing call, I hate it! I am a person with a studied mind, a passionate heart, and a few opinions of my own. What would give me the right to pound my point of view into someone else with no consideration for their thoughts?

Might I suggest that conversations, healthy ones, at least, need to remain give-‘n-take, maintaining dialog more than monolog. Might I suggest graciousness in listening to someone else’s point of view, tempered with wisdom?

Could it be possible that people who are so assertive must preserve that stance because, deep within, they are not really that certain? Give them some room, and some time: everyone deserves a chance to learn, to amend their ways. Still, no one has a right to be in your face…, even me.

Cordially,

Gary

quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur

Joanbanjo

Language has played a multidimensional role in human history. Ever since Babel, confusion and cultural divisions have reigned. Today’s whole field of cross-cultural communications has expanded to indispensable proportions. Language has both united us and divided us every bit as much as ideology. In our day we have the convenience of instant written and vocal translation devices. Yet in Western culture we oft fall back on our mother tongue, Latin, to accentuate a point.

Acta non verba– Action, not words; the motto of the U.S Merchant Marine Academy is used across the English speaking world. From Aesop we received alterius non sit qui suus esse potest– Let no man be another’s who can be his own. Author John Steinbeck, told he would be a writer when pigs flew, tagged all his subsequent works with Ad astra per alas porci- to the stars on the wings of a pig. And of course, amor vincit amnia– love conquers all. [Ah, FTL. (That’s yet another language.)]

The English language is steeped in Latin roots. –dict- to say, as in dictation; -ject- to throw, as in project or eject; -port- to carry, as in import or support. Then there are the myriad of prefixes and suffixes. Latin all! Words just sound more, well, correct, in Latin.

But seriously, erudition aside, what is the point? Unless you are presenting a paper at a medical college, or lecturing at an international theological or ornithology gathering, Latin may otherwise be out-of-place. The issues at stake in any human intercourse are clear communication, with personal integrity and individual trustworthiness. If these three elements are not present, phrasing a thought in another language will do little to give it legitimacy.

Of all the parts language has played in human history, no role is more important than clear, honest, communication. Thus, for what it’s worth, in Latin or English, this challenge remains for each of us— Do we mean what we say? Or do we use words to conceal a part of the truth? Do we twist what is true, what is wholly true? Or do we use words to shield us from reprimand for wrong-doing? In Truth, are we being at least honest? Latin erudition can disguise our fear only so far.

Oh, the title of this emPulse translates “whatever has been said in Latin seems deep.”

Uh-huh.

Arguendo,

Gary

distant intimacy

Over the past 20 years we’ve developed a kind of barrier that allows people in, and keeps them out at the same time. We want to have friends, but not too many close friends. We want to be known, but not too known. We want to be loved, but we want to return love on our terms. We want to fully give ourselves to another, but our confidence in trustis cautious. A paucity of depth in our relationships has woven in us the threads of doubt, fear, and hesitancy. So above all else, we seek to protect our hearts from the outside world, even among those who are close to us.

This has resulted in a kind of distant intimacy between lovers, husbands & wives, siblings, and within many other relationships. We’ve grown careful with how much we bare our souls with another, how much and what kinds of information we pass on, and we think twice about our degree of openness with others. This blocks uncluttered communication and further damages the nurturing of any safety we might desire. Even the excitement of a first date with someone carries some relational tentativeness into it. And long-term commitments…, well, the idea has become a rarity.

Broken relationships, the dissolution of our families, and life shattering events have all but relegated intimacy to short-term sexual encounters with little thought to the context for that kind of intimate connection. Thus, some reflection on moving intimacy from distant to deep—

Deep intimacy takes work: it does not just happen.

  1. Deep intimacy takes time: it is more than a one night stand or a series of dinners out.
  2. Deep intimacy takes forgiveness: admitting you are wrong, versus pointing the finger.
  3. Deep intimacy takes trust: putting your life into another person’s hands.
  4. Deep intimacy takes courage: it is a risk. But, nothing ventured… .
  5. Deep intimacy will hurt at times: that’s where you will be put to the test.
  6. Deep intimacy will cost you— everything. Holding back leads to distant intimacy again.

So, is it worth it? The deep intimacy? Of course it is! But it cannot be possessed without giving something of yourself, with little thought to what you might, or might not, receive in return. Personally, I need God’s help to make every relationship work. You may be different, but I doubt it.