Different, Not Wrong


Photograph Laura Bennet - artist unknown

Photography Laura Bennet – artist unknown    (Do you see a waterfall or a flat surface?)

My husband and my first golf experience revealed a core issue in our marriage.

My husband plays golf. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s good at it. Unlike me, who has been on a golf course twice. And, I spent more time playing in the cart than in the game.

However, my dad taught me all he knows about golf. He’s good at it.

Despite my lack of actual course experience, I’ve hit dozens of balls on the driving range (I’m not even counting putting on miniature golf courses). I know how to hold the club and keep the arm straight and knees slightly bent. I’m not saying I’m consistent or good, but still…

So how did what should have been a pleasant activity turn into a forced, disappointing situation? Why did our fun evening digress into an argument? Brendan thought his experience would benefit me. I decided to stick with what I had been taught.

We both wanted to do things our way and couldn’t see the other’s perspective.

It seems we aren’t the ones who coined this dilemma. From what I understand, many people struggle with the same issue. World conflicts, politics and the ongoing argument of which way to load a dishwasher are proof. Knives down, people!

Whether it’s about golf or any other number of situations, we both have understanding and opinions based on legitimate past experience and information. Even if it’s not the same, they’re both valid.

Neither is wrong or right, they’re just different.

In a healthy relationships, we do the following:

  1. Listen to the other person’s experience and perspective
  2. Validate that the other person’s view is legitimate even if we don’t share it
  3. Be open to considering the other view as a way to broaden ours
  4. Be willing to compromise when it will better serve the relationship
  5. Choose the best way for each of us given the new information
  6. Voice our position calmly, honestly and without condescension, excuse or defense
  7. Allow the other person to choose their way without judging or criticizing them

We’re still figuring out the healthy way.

Those opposites that attracted us often lead to frustration as well. Initially, I appreciated that my husband’s strong opinions could stand in the face of mine, but later I discovered  I didn’t like being challenged. Both of us believed the other one should hold our same perspective without any question.

I don’t think either of us were often very open to the other’s perspective.

The good thing is it’s never too late to change. Being in relationship, whether a marriage or with a friend, family member or co-worker challenges us to become better people. It broadens our scope of how we see life. It makes us compassionate. That’s why God created us for community.

The Bible puts it this way:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

Our last golf experience during Father’s Day was better. We encouraged each other, let the other person do things as they wished, and I asked Brendan for some help. Well, maybe once.

I guess we have grown some.

You can read more of the story along with the miracles God did to connect us online and bring my Australian husband to America in The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater.

What Are You Afraid Of?


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The scene above may be humorous, but fear is nothing to joke about.

God wired us with a healthy sense of fear to protect us from danger. But when fear dictates our lives, we can become trapped in patterns that destroy us.

Here are a few things I’ve been learning about fear lately:

  • Fear steals our identity
  • Fear makes us question our God given attributes and desires
  • Fear leads us to question another person’s motives
  • Fear causes us to judge others
  • Fear makes us assign conclusions about people or situations that aren’t accurate
  • Fear causes us to assume we know what someone’s intentions towards us are
  • Fear says lying will protect us – it keeps us from speaking the truth
  • Fear leads us to read God’s word inaccurately
  • Fear causes conflict within us
  • Fear keeps us from seeing another person’s pain
  • Fear of losing something makes us compete with others
  • Fear makes us cling to only one way of thinking
  • Fear causes us to lash out if someone has another opinion or perspective than us
  • Fear paralyzes us
  • Fear leads us to close ourselves off from others
  • Fear keeps us ineffective in our lives
  • Fear prevents us from being fully engaged in life

Maybe that’s why God tells us not to be afraid; that he didn’t give us a spirit of fear.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:18

God is love and he loves us. We don’t NEED to be afraid when we believe he loves us and will take care of us. He knows all and has everything under control. So if we surrender to him, we can rest there and live in freedom.

I’ve been asking God to tell me what I’m afraid of. If we ask, he’ll tell us. And he’ll tell us what to do about it. I’m learning a lot about myself and the places I’ve been trapped.

He’ll also reassure us that he’s right there. Like a kid jumping into a pool into his daddy’s waiting arms. That’s us with God.

That’s a good place to be.

Conflict Makes a Story…Immigration Part 3


So, I just finished reading Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and his words still reverberate through my mind at various times through my day. (I highly recommend the book which you can check out at www.donaldmillerwords.com ).

In his book, he talks about the process of making one of his other books (Blue Like Jazz – another amazing work of art) into a movie, and what it took to create a story of his life that would be interesting and worth viewing. Truth is, he learned that he wanted a better story to his life period, so he began engaging in life in ways he had never imagined. Way to go, Don.

One of the things (too many to mention here) that grabbed me about his book was the idea of conflict causing change in characters. Now, I was taught in writing classes that a good story must have what we call rising action, a series of conflicts that build to a climax after which the action falls into some type of resolution. Writing 101. However, even though we write about life and things we know about or hope for, it never occurred to me that the conflicts in my actual life were creating a better story.

Since this blog(and the book in progress) is about my life, I asked my writing critique partner if she thought there was enough real conflict to make my story interesting. She assured me there is, and as I’ve taken another look, I’ve begun to see that what makes our story a great story–other people’s words not mine, though I agree–is not how romantic it is, but that there have been tremendous conflicts faced and overcome. We started on an impossible journey and watched the conflicts build and resolve as we kept saying yes and moving ahead.

Hence, the immigration issues we’ve faced make for a better story. Thank you USCIS.

To continue the story….

Within just two weeks we heard from America and Australia that the approved application for Brendan’s visa had been received, and he could submit all the necessary paperwork to the consulate in Australia. They kindly enclosed a list of about a dozen required items including a police report, fingerprints, a medical examination and clearance, all the previous documents in duplicate (what did they do with the other four copies?) and, of course, more money.

I have to confess that we cheated a little. I had already done extensive research to find out what things they would ask for before we got the letter asking for them so that we could be ahead if possible. Remember, we were in a time crunch with a wedding hopefully taking place in just six weeks. So when we received the letter, Brendan had already made the required doctor appointments for him and the kids in Brisbane, and was ready to head out the door to get his police report taken care of.

But when he called me hours later, I was crushed. The police report would take 6-8 weeks they said. And that was just one part of all the things we needed done before he could fly to Sydney (with the kids) to submit it all for the visa. We didn’t know what to do.

“Did you tell them you needed it as soon as possible??” I snapped at him. Like it was really his fault.

“Yes, darling. I did. No one really cares. They just said it would be that long when I asked, and then they moved on to the next person.”

I was so disappointed. I envisioned postponing our wedding for a second time. In all fairness, the website and letters we received made it very clear that we should not book tickets or plan weddings until a visa was actually in hand. Of course they didn’t take into account the details of planning weddings or travel now, did they?

“Well, I guess it’s another opportunity for a miracle. There’s no other option than to trust that God knows what he’s doing and will do the best for us.” I said the words more to convince myself than out of actual belief at that point. I certainly didn’t see how it would work out.

Brendan and I hung up, and I went and cried.