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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Clams have hard shells

The opportunities to be beaten down by this world and the stuff we have to face in it are innumerable.  We find ourselves constantly on the alert for the next "attack" - hoping it will not catch us unaware or gawking at something meaningless.  When the attacks come from someone we are in relationship with, and they will come, our attitude toward those who are attacking us makes a huge difference in the outcome!  All we see is the attack - what we need to see is the one behind the attack.  All we deal with is the attack - we forget about the force behind it - whether it be jealousy, bitterness, or fear (to name only a few). All attacks within relationship stem from some form of emotion - the one attacking is experiencing something which they respond to in a way which is less than honoring or holy.  In turn, your response is a little bit outside of the perspective you should be maintaining in the moment.  This is natural - we respond in a defensive manner because we are being attacked.  Perhaps one of the greatest struggles we will face in this life is to respond with wisdom and sensibility when others attack us.

Are any of you wise or sensible? Then show it by living right and by being humble and wise in everything you do.  But if your heart is full of bitter jealousy and selfishness, don’t brag or lie to cover up the truth. That kind of wisdom doesn’t come from above. It is earthly and selfish and comes from the devil himself.  Whenever people are jealous or selfish, they cause trouble and do all sorts of cruel things.  But the wisdom that comes from above leads us to be pure, friendly, gentle, sensible, kind, helpful, genuine, and sincere.  When peacemakers plant seeds of peace, they will harvest justice.  (James 3:14-18 CEV)

Get in a position of not seeing eye-to-eye with another in relationship and you will soon note that sensibility is something which flies out the window.  Both parties somehow forget how to act toward the other - they are responding to the emotion of the moment.  In turn, things get said, attitudes get displayed, and memories are planted which just don't belong within the relationship.  This is how bitterness and resentment get started.  Sensibility is just the capacity to experience senses - we need wisdom to keep those senses in check!

We need an acuteness of apprehension when it comes to relationship issues. The things which are said don't actually reflect reality - but they do reflect reality to the other person.  We know there must be something behind those words which come as an attack - but we aren't seeing the relationship moment the same way they are - so we need this wisdom from above to weed our way through the messiness of relationship.  One response to being threatened, or feeling like you have not been understood in relationship is to become a clam. The individual pulls tightly into their shell and closes down.  If you have ever tried to get a live clam open, you know you are struggling against their desire to stay "shut up".  The same is true in relationship - when someone pulls in and shuts down, the damage done trying to get them to open up before they want to can actually be quite devastating!

The clam can stay in their shell for a long period of time, but eventually it has to open the shell and take in freshness.  If it doesn't, it putrefies in the byproduct of what it has taken in before it shut down!  At first, this may not seem like a really big revelation to anyone, but even clams will die in their "bitter juices" if they don't expel the "waste" of what they have taken in!  In relationship, we take in a whole lot of stuff - wisdom dictates we take in the best and leave the rest.  Yet, we don't always use wisdom, do we?  In fact, we sometimes take in stuff, clamp down on it and allow ourselves to fester in the juices of the garbage we took in!  In time, our whole life turns bitter because of what we have been marinating in and on!

Did you know clams are one of the longest living creatures on this earth?  There have been some found who probably are well over 200 years old.  Why does this matter to us?  If we are "clam-like" in our response to attacks within relationship, we may live a long, long time, but we become pretty hardened by what we have marinated in all those years!  Bitterness has no part in our lives, yet it takes root quicker than weeds!  When words are spoken, our minds latch onto them, form memories around them, and file them away.  We rehearse them when we cannot figure out why the other person said them, what was behind them, or when we just want a good pity party.  In time, what is rehearsed forms a new reality for us - it clouds how we see the relationship. The root is set and we are going to harvest a huge crop of resentment if we don't get a handle on it early on!

Every opportunity for the relationship to fail is at our disposal.  Equally so, every opportunity for it to grow in Christ is at our access.  It takes opening up to get in freshness - it takes letting go of the gunk we have clamped down on for so long in order to bring in newness.  All of us has the potential to be the clam.  All of us have the potential to be the one who brings freshness into the relationship.  It may not be the easiest thing to be a peacemaker, but if you find yourself being impressed to be one today, step out and see the potential in the newness you can bring into someone's life today. It may be the only "fresh water" they have taken in for a long, long time!  Just sayin!