Manplaining

The definition of manplaining is synonymous with complaining. Might as well make it more personal, replacing the ‘com’ with the one who creates the words of complaining and creating the word manplaining. What does this entail exactly? Let’s look at a passage of scripture as an example found in the fifth chapter of John.

The place was called Bethesda, an aquatic area where at times it was known to be a place where people could be healed of various ailments; all except one, who was always there waiting to be placed in the water but never was.

  • Point #1: if you want something done, you may have to do it yourself, unless you like having a reason to manplain. This appears to be the case here, as the crippled man was by the water for some thirty-eight years! Imagine that for a moment, but don’t come down hard on this man, take a look at yourself. How many times have you been in a situation that frustrates you, but instead of implementing some sort of change you manplain? Why do we do that? Maybe, like the man in the biblical story, there may be some fear associated with the unknown atmosphere of change, vs. being set in the territory of frustration, pain and the like. You may not like being in this territory, but at least you know what to expect from it. Could this be what is going on with the man in the bible? Could this be you?   Jesus comes on the scene, asking the man if he wants to be made whole. Here is the moment! It has finally arrived! After three and a half decades of trying to get healed, the man is being presented with an opportunity! Instead of his answering the question with “Yes, I do” with excited anticipation, instead he manplains. He tells Jesus he has tried to get in the water, but no one helps him in get in the water. Herein is point #2:
  • He depends on others to get his blessing. He may depend on others to do things for him, but has he tried new things himself? Here is a new thing about to unfold, yet he stays in the familiar realm of the usual instead of embracing the amazing frontier of being whole.  Question: When the new is presented that can solve your dilemma, how do you react?

There is a happy ending to the man of Bethesda. He is no longer an invalid, but he is valid in the eyes of Jesus. The now healed man was able to walk, showing everyone who is used to seeing him one way, now carrying his mat instead of sitting on it. The man, now made whole was asked by the Jews who healed him, but the man did not know.  Later, Jesus found the man went to the temple, and told him to sin no more, lest something worse will come upon him. The healed man left and found the Jews, telling them who healed him.

  • Point #3: Follow directions, even if those directions are not according to the usual way of doing things.  Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath and the man once healed followed directions of carrying his bed and walking. The Jews complained that he should not be carrying anything because it was the Sabbath, and Jesus should not have healed the man on the Sabbath. Question: Is it normal for everyone (including you) to manplain about this and that? What would happen if you did something different, like say ‘this is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it?’ What a change that would be! A mindset shift to rejoice and not manplain. What a concept! Think you can refrain from the world of mainplain?

So take a week asking God for help from the concept of manplaining to being glad in the process of life. Keep a log of how you felt, and if you will continue on this journey. It will take some time to make the change, but this could be a blessing, particularly being a caregiver of someone who frequently complains and attempts to pull you into that realm. Drop me a line and let me know how it went.

 

Thinking Too Much

To caregivers everywhere consider this:

  • What you think will happen may be all in the mind, and I am not referring about the person you are caring for; I’m talking about you, the care giver. Just because you get a comment of “I need to talk to you about something”, does not mean the conversation will be one of the usual conflict and argument.
    • My mother called me early this morning with the above statement. I admit, I did not want to talk to her, as I thought it was going to be about what was scheduled to happen tomorrow, which was having  an MRI and other tests. Prior to today she said many times she did not want to have the test, while other times she was okay with it. But this morning, I thought she wanted to talk to me about backing out of the appointment. Rather that taking care of it then, I postponed it, telling her I would talk to her about it later today.
    • I spent the day thinking of endless scenarios of how the conversation would go, and how I would answer each one. What happened was none of the above. When the time came for us to talk, she said she was concerned if we had the right papers, and that the test had been approved by the insurance company. I assured her that I had called the hospital, and while there were issues, the corrections were made, which changed the appointment time, but all was in their computer and we were set for the appointment. As a result, she appreciated knowing “I was on top of things” and she would be ready tomorrow to meet me at the time I requested her to come to the car so we could go.
    • The conversation took a short ten minutes, and it resolved a couple of things. I think we were both relieved: me giving her information she did not have, and me for not using any of my responses I stored in my brain for possible scenarios that did not come into reality. For me, time I used for that today was time not spent properly. Which brings me to the next point:
  • Take things a step at a time and don’t think so much; your loved one is already doing that, so don’t follow suit. For caregivers, this is an area where stress can build, sleep is lost, and the ‘what-ifs’ can be endless. And for what? For something that has the possibility of  never becoming reality. One last point:
  • I learned I need to handle situations rather that putting them off. Delay did not help neither of us in this situation. My mother probably thought all day of what I would say, and I thought all day of what to say and what may happen. If I had taken the time to see her (though it would have made me late for church) the issue would have been resolved much earlier.

Live and learn, and in this case it is learning how not to think too much. Hope you do the same.

 

The Growth Pains of Inner Strength

It is interesting how difficulty can bring strength to the inner core. The discovery of aha moments in the most challenging of situations brings hope to the surface, enabling one to continue trying, even if the light at the end of the tunnel can’t be seen. But there are things that can be acknowledged:

Know who you are in God. Know that in Him you live, move and have your being. He knows your thoughts afar off, even before you formulate the thoughts of fear, despair, and frustration, all rolled into living the life of being a caregiver:

  • The long discussions one has with their loved one, familiar conversations you know you have had with him/her before, but ones that your loved one clearly does not remember, and says “I did not know”, or “I was not aware”. This happened recently with my mother. After talking for over ninety minutes, the familiar adversary of frustration crept into my emotion, and while we did not argue, I left feeling there was not much accomplished by the going back and forth, wondering what else I could have said that could have not only made her understand, but could have eliminated the underlying current of distrust of me and others who are trying to help.
  • After our conversation, I felt so heavy. I didn’t say enough, I didn’t present the right sentences, I wasn’t successful. I left her place and came to mine, not long thereafter going to bed, sitting in darkness and crying out to God about what to do next. At the same time, I did not want to complain and rehash what just happened.

Instead, I determined to just honor God by saying affirming statements like “I trust you have me God”, “you said nothing is impossible”, “I am victorious”. And then the prayer shifted more. I said I wanted what He wanted, and my request was for His involvement in all of this and other situations and concerns. I told God that I want to know what he wanted, that I wanted Him to be “in”. IN everything I do, IN everything I am involved with, I wanted him involved. I remember saying that night in the darkness, “God, I want you in.” And just like that, God’s presence entered the room, and worship broke out.

That encounter enabled me to get to sleep. It caused the heaviness to dissipate. I can’t tell you that when I woke up the next morning I felt like the heaviness was completely gone, because it wasn’t. But I can tell you that God-encounter cause me to continue on living life, fueling me to get out of bed, get ready for work, and once at work to get things done. By the time I got home, and after doing some exercising and eating dinner, I felt better and yes, I felt lighter mentally, as I continued to make affirming statements that included “this too shall pass”.

  • Friends are important as you are experiencing challenges. God has provided me with a support system of friends who went through the same things I am presently going through with my mother, and they encouraged me by presenting a different angle to the situation I had not considered. So I encourage you to get much needed wisdom from those who have been where you presently are; learn from them. They can be a big help.

“We can be tired, weary and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength.”   Charles Stanley

Therein is where the experience of growth pains from challenging situations causes strength to become stronger deep within one’s very being.

 

Communication Line

It’s been a while since writing in the blog.  Here’s an update:

Mom has been doing better. I went to see my son who was recovering from an injury that had him in the hospital. During my time away, I called her to see how she was doing, and we had a long discussion on scheduled doctor visits, getting an MRI of her head, and just how she feels she is doing. She admitted some things that I was happy to hear from her. Without going into detail of that conversation, I wanted to encourage caregivers to leave the door of communication open at all times. One never knows when you will have an intimate conversation that will enable you to really hear what is going on in their minds. It may be good thoughts and/or ones that aren’t so good (depending on how clear-headed they are at the time), but at least you will know what your loved one is thinking.

The line of communication includes the one talking and the one listening. If you are on the listening end, it helps to let the one on the other side of the line to talk, get things off their chest. And if you can, offer suggestions that could encourage them and lift them up. During my conversation with my mother, I was pleasantly surprised to hear what she had to say regarding how she was reacting and not reacting to everyday living, and there were some things she had to accept as she gets older. That conversation was a good one that helped both of us view (as best we could) the whole picture.

But there is another line of communication that is available, and that is having a talk with God. As caregivers we tend to make the attempt to handle everything on our own, which tires us out in the process. God encourages us to cast our cares upon him, as he cares for us. He always offers and leaves the line of communication open whenever we need to get some things off our chest. Take him up on his offer, and give him a call and communicate with him. He is always available.