That One Woman

finger-pointingYou know “that one woman.” She’s the one who seems to create the most problems and consume the most time in your life. She might be in your small group, on your ministry team, or in your church family. She seems to approach you at the most inopportune time.

“That one woman” might have a variety of names:

Whiney Whitney has a complaint about everything. She doesn’t usually want to be part of a solution; she just wants to voice her (negative) opinions to whoever will listen.
Answers Annie knows just about everything about everything. She sounds as if she wants to take charge, but she doesn’t want the responsibility.
Gossip Guilda talks about anything that shouldn’t be openly discussed. She betrays confidence, speculates to fill in gaps of unknown information, and generates concern where none is needed.
Bully Betty is mean-spirited. Sometimes her mistreatment of others is obvious, but other times it’s a quick, thoughtless word of judgment or eye roll and disgusted sigh.
Crisis Cathy needs you nearly 24/7. She’s in chronic desperate need. You want to meet her needs, but you’re beginning to wonder if you’re in an unhealthy codependent relationship.
Selfish Sally wants everything to be convenient to her schedule, priorities, and preferences. She won’t say “go ahead without me.” She needs to be included in every plan.
Doubting Debby is never quite sure about anything. She is certain someone will get her feelings hurt or end up in trouble. She wants to be sure everything is done “properly” but isn’t sure what that means.

Let’s face it: life would be much easier without people!

But, that’s not a possibility. We have to find a way to deal with difficult people and situations.

Be flexible. You might need to lower your expectations of “that one woman.” You can want the best for and from her, but if she’s consistent in her behavior – whether you like the behavior of not – you shouldn’t be surprised when she behaves exactly the way she usually behaves.

Be fair. You need to honestly consider how much of your time is spent dealing with, discussing, and thinking about “that one woman.” If you subtract the percentage of time you spend on her, how much time remains for all the other women around you? Are you cheating others of your commitment and relationship?

Be firm. Trust God through mentoring or confrontation – whatever approach He guides you through. “That one woman’s” response to you might not change until your response to her changes. Don’t assume you know the best way to handle the situation. God knows the details better than you.

Be fine-tuned. Personality conflicts aren’t just about “that one woman.” She might get along well everyone else, and you just don’t get it. Someone else’s “that one woman” is likely different than yours. We clash with others for a variety of reasons. God created you in His image, and He also created “that one woman.”

Be followed. Know that as much as you want to teach “that one woman” a lesson, God has a lesson for you, too. You are an example to others. People are watching when you least expect it.

Remember, you are likely “that one woman” to someone, too.

Fit Faith: Frequency: My Special Day

Consistency is important, but sometimes it’s the special once-in-a-lifetime experiences that stand out. The very infrequency of something strikes it with a bright highlighter, illuminating it for later attention and recollection.

I rarely asked for anything special on Mother’s Day. I felt as if every day of the year was Mother’s Day, because I got to bask in the joys of being a mother. Yes, there were challenges every day, but in the context of the blessings, I could accept them and appreciate the opportunities I had.

One Mother’s Day, I surprised everyone by announcing there was just one thing I wanted: to load up everyone’s bikes and go for a ride on my favorite hiking path after church. No one was as excited about it as I was, but they entertained me. The girls weren’t very old, and they knew the bike ride would be long and challenging. Tim knew he wouldn’t be able to ride his bike at full speed with the rest of us along. But we packed a lunch and headed to the trail after church.

It was a glorious day for me, and no one else seemed to mind it much at all either. We rode five miles, stopped for a lunch break beside a small lake, and made the return trip. It was a gorgeous day.

Had I experienced bike rides with my family every weekend, I probably would have enjoyed some of the experiences and endured others – when someone would be grumpy or get hurt or the weather wasn’t ideal. As it was, I had one glorious day of memories with my family on our bikes on that path.

Something similar happens when we go on a retreat or attend a conference. We walk away rejuvenated and ready to tackle our lives with renewed energy and purpose. The infrequency makes these experiences impactful. We build time with God into our daily lives: devotions, prayer, accountability. While we benefit greatly from the consistenty, daily also means routine. When we’re at conferences and retreats, we step away from routine. While routine is excellent for discipline, occasional escapes encourage us to listen in fresh ways.

How can you capture renewed energy and purpose on limited time, money, and flexibility?

Here are a few thoughts:

Use your senses. Quietly reading your Bible is wonderful. Experiencing God’s Word through multiple senses helps us put an exclamation point on a verse. Consider how you can see, hear, and touch Scripture.

Use repetition. Carry your quiet time throughout the day with you. We too easy compartmentalize our time with God. Choose one key verse of the day and post sticky notes in places you’ll find them throughout your day. Set your cell phone alarm to vibrate hourly as a reminder to reflect and act on the verse.

Use social networking. De-compartmentalized your faith while engaging others. Tweet a verse each day on Twitter. Post a reflective question or action challenge on Facebook.

Whatever your approach, seek renewed energy and purpose with occasional escapes from routine. Listen to God in fresh ways. Open your ears to hear from God.

Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. (Proverbs 8:34)

Fit Faith: Flexibility: Location, Location, Location

There’s something to be said about consistency. However, the reality is things will never be exactly the same. It’s important to infuse some flexibility into consistency. Doing something the same every single time has limited benefits. Trying new stretches or exercises will quickly reveal weaknesses even if you’re strong in your areas of consistent workout. Trying something new gives you a fresh perspective. You never know when you’ll find something new you’ll enjoy. You never know when you won’t like something new but gain an appreciation for your routine.

I travel often, but not consistently. I enjoy the adventure of traveling and meeting new people in new places, but travel disrupts my fitness routine. I don’t travel regularly enough to have an established routine while travelling. The closest I come to an established fitness routine while travelling is a determination to work out in some way. The details of the workout differ.

If there’s a safe place to walk outside, and the weather is decent, it’s my preference. I get to enjoy being outside and exploring a new location. However, that option usually doesn’t exist. My second option is the treadmill in the hotel fitness room. Depending on my available hours and those of the fitness room, that doesn’t work all the time either. If I foresee a problem finding a time and location to work out, I put an exercise DVD in my laptop case to use in the hotel room.

I’ve been creative. I’ve worked out with friends in the hallway outside the main convention room late at night. I’ve circled the hotel, going up the stairs on one side of the building and down the escalator on the other. I bought a one-week pass to gym. There have been a few times I haven’t been able to find the time or opportunity to exercise, but it’s not for lack of trying! The flexibility has almost become a challenge. How can I creatively find a time and location to work out in an unfamiliar location?

It’s equally important to infuse flexibility into consistency in all things spiritual. There’s definitely something to be said for routine. When we consistently work prayer, study, and service into our lives, we grow, but we have to be authentic about it. Being consistent doesn’t presume spiritual growth. You can be consistently stubborn, self-centered, and wrong! What’s critical in consistency is the desire to seek and know God.

We can get into such regimented routines that we don’t stop to process and savor the journey. Infusing some flexibility can help.

Consider how flexible you are. If you have a designated time for prayer every day, what happens when your routine is interrupted, either predictably or unexpectedly? Do you excuse the change as a valid reason for shifting priorities? How much effort goes into rearranging your schedule to accommodate the change?

If you miss your prayer time, assess the remainder of your day as early as you can find the first possible time to shift your prayer time into. If you know your schedule will be altered ahead of time, you have time to plan.

When you miss a small group meeting, perhaps two, do you rationalize you’re too far behind and decide not to return? You don’t have to be perfect. No one is. We should strive to establish solid, healthy routines, so we can grow spiritually. However, we need to be realistic. Missing one or two studies, prayer times, or worship services doesn’t mean we can’t be consistent. We need to widen our perspective and see the larger picture.

We’re going to be consistent at something. Would you prefer to be consistent in your discipline or lack of it?