Let’s Talk



Bravery in Today’s Culture  


Q. How do I stay brave when so much of our culture seems mean-spirited, aggressive, and violent?

A. Let’s Talk! Yes, when we hear about mass violence such as the Boston Marathon bombings, we shudder. We feel so vulnerable. But there are some acts of violence much closer to home that occur way too frequently. Interestingly enough, we can do something about these, and these actions help us to be brave. Let’s take a look.

Sadly, these other levels of violence are every bit as insidious. For example, you have seen that disrespect is rampant in our culture, haven’t you? Did you know that disrespect is a form of bullying and that bullying is violence? Really! Manifestations of disrespect lead to bullying in schools, the workplace, and even contribute to abusive relationships. We have almost become desensitized to bullying—excusing it and considering it “normal.” Bullying has infiltrated our homes, schools, and workplaces for decades. But, even though we cannot control others and outcomes generally, we can bravely attempt to establish strong and personal boundaries.

First, let’s look at a wider definition of bullying. Consider that bullying is a continuum of violence from nonphysical events on up to physical trauma. Examples of nonphysical bullying are spoken or unspoken disrespect such as shunning, eye-rolling, name-calling, teasing, taunting, and shameful or hurtful messages in person or on social media. Cyberbullying has risen to a crisis level. Physical bullying is more obviously seen as hitting, pushing, shoving, knifing, or raping. I share this list to raise our awareness of the many acts of violence around us—many that we may not have considered as violence. Shunning is every bit as damaging as a verbal or physical assault. It all hurts.

Our part is to protect our bodies and protect our hearts. I used to teach small children early in the school year a way to respond when disrespected. I asked them not to cave, TO BE BRAVE, and to hold up their hand in a stop position and say, “Stop” or “Please stop,” or “That hurts.” We cannot ignore any level of perpetration. If our “perp” chooses to continue, we need to get help from higher authorities and insist on accountability.

Recently, a father in Wisconsin was in the news on Facebook as standing behind his son:

Matthew Bent, whose son, Shiloh, was being victimized at school, posted a message saying he ‘stands behind my son in the fight against bullying.’ The reaction was enough to get the Kaukauna Area School District to notice.

We can bravely stand. We can bravely speak up. And we can bravely look up! We’ll look more at personal trauma next week and the consequences when we don’t draw a line in the sand.

For Deeper Reflection

Matthew 18: 15, 16 “And if your brother sins (or offends you), go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.”

 Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

Waiting for Mr. Talldark N. Handsome

Some days I’m torn between Craig and Frank. Other days Dave catches my eye. Craig is polished and successful, Frank is fun and outdoorsy, and Dave is strong and compassionate. What’s an eligible bachelorette to do?

Thanks to Boyfriend-in-a-Box™, which was introduced in the ‘90s, I can be in a relationship with all three with no one getting hurt. If I tire of Corporate Craig, Firefighter Frank, or Doctor Dave, I can always rely on Athletic Al, Cowboy Clint, or Musical Miles to be my special guy.

Boyfriend-in-a-Box is a single women’s survival kit against that age-old question: “Are you seeing anyone?” This humorous gag gift features a 5″x7″ and wallet-sized photo of Craig, Frank, or one of the other four irresistible men. You also get three phone message slips saying “he called” and a mushy greeting card signed by your man. For the overly inquisitive people, sometimes a picture of a guy is all they need to ease off your social life.

photo_24566_20101217Social life, you may ask. I can empathize if the highlight of your “social life” is picking up your doggie’s doo at the park near the cute guy walking his dog. Or, if like me, you finally wade through the dozens of online profiles of eligible bachelors to find one or two who do not confess to bizarre habits like “chasing my cat in the dark with a flashlight” (I kid you not!)

You know, there are advantages to both sides of the marriage bond. As a single, there’s no confusion on how to hang the toilet paper rolls in my house, and I can keep the room temperature to my liking. Plus, I never fear those chilling toilet seat-up plunges in the middle of the night.

Yet singleness has its woes. I have no one else to take out the trash or give me a back massage. There’s no man to mow the lawn or lift the 50-pound manure bag into my garden. I can’t snuggle next to my partner in front a romantic fire and share the details of my day. And, there’s no one to buffer me from telemarketers. Oh, if only those boyfriends in a box could answer the phone.

My married friend Angie kids that since I live in Colorado I should put on a cute sweater with matching earrings, lipstick, and nail polish and sit in a ski lodge all day waiting to attract Mr. Talldark N. Handsome. That sounds somewhat reasonable, but at my age sitting for long periods bothers my back.

So what’s an outgoing, fun, creative, blonde/blue SWCF like me doing about finding an athletic, tall, fun SWCM? Besides staying involved in activities where I can meet stable single men (does hanging out at Home Depot count?), I’m hanging onto the Bible verse that God led me to in my twenties: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:5).

After decades of resiliency in dating and waiting, I still find that delighting in my relationship with God and with family and friends is an antidote to despair in flying solo. Whether we’re single, married, single again, or widowed, learning to delight in what we do have in our current season in life is actually an antidote to despair or complacency for all of us.

I honestly believe that the man handpicked for me, is out there, we just haven’t connected yet. Or have we? Hmmm. . . . I may not know his name or what he looks like, but I thank God that He knows. He also knows what I need in a husband and how to use my singleness now to make me a more complete wife later.

How much longer is later? I don’t know, but life is too short to sit around pondering if I’ll have cold feet on my wedding day. (At the rate I’m going, cold feet and senior discounts are almost guaranteed.) Even if I must wait for a wheelchair wedding at age 85, I promise my friends we’ll offer gelatins, applesauce, and chocolate shakes at the reception.

But wait. How can I make wedding plans when I can’t even decide between Craig, Frank, or Dave?

Brave & Resilient Tip #14:  Delight in what you do have in your current season of life.