Category Archives: Relationships

A Pathway to Reconciliation

 

This past November I wrote the most difficult and intricate post I have ever written on my blog or elsewhere on the topic of racial reconciliation titled, “The Imperative & Paradox of Racial Reconciliation”. In getting to the finished post, I crafted various versions that in hindsight acted as my processing tools. I had originally intended on making the framework I created be the centerpiece of my finished product but God had other plans!

Outside of my continued work on racial reconciliation in the Be the Bridge groups at my church, I am grappling with reconciliation on a personal level and it is proving to be daunting. I am talking just about the hopeful restoration of broken familial bonds, not anything to do with race or gender, just plain old reconciliation. And I feel like a blind woman trying to walk in the desert at night. How do I begin to rebuild trust, restore wholeness in love, respond with empathy and respect, nurse my wounds without anger and stem the pangs of perceived betrayal? This much I do know— I need a generous endowment of The Holy Spirit to transform my heart so I can be an honest participant in any reconciliation process. I cannot do this type of heart-centered work purely by my own efforting or willing it to be so.

In trying to make a way for myself, I figured it might be helpful to dig up my earlier drafts on a reconciliation framework to give me some type of guide as I navigate the uncomfortable and often painful journey towards reconciliation within my family.

The Cycle of Reconciliation

In my research on this topic and personal experience, I’ve observed three key stages that define the reconciliation process. For want of a more creative descriptor, I’m calling it The Reconciliation Cycle.  It’s a cycle because these stages are by no means linear. For a concept as complex, personal and significant as reconciliation, it is best to think of these stages as flows rather than steps, with the understanding that a person can flow back and forth and in and out of each stage or stages at different times.

  1. Confession—Professing/Acknowledging out loud to another and/or to ourselves/God where you have wronged, hurt or harmed another by word, action or deed.
  2. Repentance—Feeling sorrow and regret for the wrongs and hurt you may have inflicted on another, knowingly or unknowingly. Having a true desire to atone for wrongs and to make amends with another. Repentance often requires a heart change.
  3. Forgiveness—Forgiving the other party for the wrongs you believe you suffered at their hand. And forgiving yourself, bringing your hurts and wounds to the throne of God’s grace. Extending forgiveness is the only way to start a constructive, heart-centered dialog which is essential for reconciliation.

These three stages may occur back and forth as The Reconciliation Cycle is in process, the scales removed from our eyes and more grievances or injustices are uncovered.

Attributes/Attitudes Required

Reconciliation requires that each party in the process arm themselves with attitudes and attributes that promote reconciliation. These attitudes are critical as the parties move from hurt to healed, and go through the three stages of Compassion, Repentance and Forgiveness during The Reconciliation Cycle.

  1. Humility—Confession, repentance and forgiveness require a humble heart. Both parties need to get their egos and pride out of the way for reconciliation to move forward.
  2. Readiness—If one party is ready to reconcile but the other is not, there cannot be reconciliation. Reconciliation requires a certain level of readiness from each party.
  3. Understanding—A part of the reconciliation process involves a shift in perspective where each party is better able to put themselves in the others’ shoes. This is the only way for healing to really occur. Each party must be able to understand their role in breaking the bond of relationship and desire to move forward differently.
  4. Compassion—Compassion and understanding go hand in hand. Having empathy for the other party promotes forgiveness.
  5. Patience—Reconciliation takes time. The deeper the chasm the longer the journey. Each party has to exercise patience during the reconciliation process.
  6. Trust—Reconciliation cannot emerge without trust. Trust is needed in one self to share ones truth to another. And trust is needed in the other party’s willingness and ability to hear and receive this truth. It requires each party to believe in the best about the other as they work through their differences.
  7. Commitment—Reconciliation is not a linear progression. It is much more complicated than that and each party may be at different stages of The Reconciliation Cycle at any given time. It is uncomfortable, painful and extremely vulnerable doing this tough work. So both parties must be committed to reconciliation.

I think this is why Paul exhorted believers in the early churches throughout the New Testament to “clothe (them)selves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12) and to “be humble and gentle in every way. Be patient with each other and lovingly accept each other” (Ephesians 4:2). Paul knew what they were up against, and knew they would need to be intentional about loving on one another in the midst of challenges.

The Role Emotions Play in The Reconciliation Cycle

Consider the challenge required in crossing over each of these three stages of reconciliation with just one other person as you journey to reconciliation. It is a process. It is complicated. Emotions rise to the surface easily– tough emotions like shame, guilt, anger, hurt and fear which we are often ill-equipped to express in healthy ways. These emotions too, are part of The Reconciliation Cycle. These feelings need to be discharged in constructive ways. And feeling these emotions can cause old wounds to be opened anew.

In spite of how overwhelmed I feel about trying to restore key broken relationships in my family, I remain hopeful that God will equip me to do what he has called me to do: to be an ambassador of reconciliation.  This is true not just among the disparate factions in my church and this country as a whole, but as up close and personal as my own family.

As challenging as I believe racial reconciliation to be as evidenced by my thoughts on it in my previous post, I think the restoration of familial bonds may actually be more difficult as it is fraught with such deeply personal experiences and history. Nevertheless, I press on, in hope, trusting in the love of God to heal all wounds.

“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, could be accomplished alone; therefore, we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our own standpoint; therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.” Reinhold Niebuhr, ‘The Irony of American History’


Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, insight coach, and marketing & branding consultant. She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. Read more of her inspirational posts on her website. Email her at Elanimage07@gmail.com.

 

 

5 Steps to Leverage your Vulnerability for Victory

woman happy

In order to develop deep, meaningful relationships, we need to expose our real selves, to let people in so that they see our authentic personas. This is what vulnerability is all about. But, let’s face it, how comfortable are we with vulnerability, when many of us perceive it as a weakness? How can we be vulnerable when we don’t trust others will honor our unmasked selves? How can vulnerability coexist with the fear of being judged, disliked, criticized or shamed?

Brene Brown became famous for her research on shame and vulnerability. In a recent article she explained, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think… When we’ve attached our self-worth to what we produce or earn, being real gets dicey.” Her words so resonated with me. In my career as an image consultant, I became so fixated with my brand image, that I began to downplay the naturally authentic traits that revealed the “real” me. Unnoticed by me, I was increasingly becoming a façade of my true self. I assumed if I perfected the part of image consultant, it would seal my success. But I was so wrong. What I could not understand then was that I was distancing myself more and more from true connections with my family, friends, and clients. With all these walls against intimacy up, how could those whose favor I wanted truly relate to me?

In my attempt to win approval, I perfected the art of people pleasing.  I hitched my self-worth onto my performance because that is what I was taught—get good grades, a good job, practice good behavior and I would earn the right to be liked.  The very thing I sought is the very thing I hijacked by my “good girl” image. People may admire the good girl, they may even respect her, but they sure won’t get close to her. Likeability has everything to do with one’s capacity for vulnerability.

What I’ve come to understand is that my flaws, my humanness, my struggles make me a real woman living in today’s very complex, intricately connected world. Striving to be the perfect anything is a recipe for failure, because perfectionism reeks of fakeness, illusion, and inauthenticity—all things that keep us arm’s length away from others. The fear of making mistakes, being criticized, failing, or rejection are the uncertainties we tackle as individuals on a quest to fulfill our life’s work. Facing this vulnerability head on is the only way to move forward. Being vulnerable then helps us to succeed as it allows us to connect with others in a real, meaningful way and to honor ourselves as we truly are, all armor aside.

Supported in this knowledge, these 5 steps continue to help me recover from my tendency to hide the real me:

  1. SHOW up. It takes a LOT of energy to hide. It is far easier to show up, to be in the game and to be present to the glory and the potential risk of disapproval. To be a player in love, work and life.
  2. Be SEEN. Make your presence known, felt and understood. Be visible and stand in your truth. Take the necessary step: write that book, design that masterpiece, launch that innovation. Fuel your passion and creativity. Dream. And dream Big. Just go for it.
  3. SHARE. Your story. Your opinion. Your perspective. Your values. Be generous in opening up about who you really are and what you are about. Sharing also means listening. Be an active listener. It is this give and take that allows real bonds to form.
  4. SHINE. As Marianne Williamson famously said: “It’s our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” Dare to be brilliant! 
  5. SURRENDER…to the outcome. Know that no one can do you better than you. You are the best version of yourself. Be authentic and surrender the rest to God. Be amazingly you, but don’t be attached to the result.

There will always be folks who “lie in wait for the vulnerable and pounce as a way to feel powerful” as author Donald Miller put it in his book Scary Close. Yes, there will always be naysayers and detractors. But we should not let their judgement and criticism crowd out the majority who really are rooting for us, because they recognize that we are all ultimately on a similar journey to realize our excellence in our life’s purpose.

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style. 

Visit her blog at: http://nataliejobity.com/be-simply-inspired/

Five Ways to Use the Power of your Words for Good

talking

Lately I have been trying to pay attention to the words I use.  And what I hear myself speak does not always please me.  It’s bad enough that the occasional expletive still slips out of my mouth unawares, but I am actually more concerned about when I speak lack, destruction, failure or negativity of any kind into my life. Our words have power, yet we use them so thoughtlessly. I am as guilty of this as the next person.  I was just at the car dealership, complaining that I can’t afford to fix another problem with my VW Beetle. And the dealer, kept insisting, “Oh you can afford it, you are doing well, you’ve got loads of money”.  Then I began to come in agreement with him. I affirmed, “Yes you are right, I’m doing well”. This was my attempt at injecting positivity into my consciousness rather than lack.

What I’ve learned over time is that we do create our reality with the thoughts we think and the words we speak. If I want a future filled with prosperity, abundance, love, joy, peace, success and harmony, then I have to come into agreement with this vision with the words I use. Isaiah 55:11 underscores this point: “It is the same with my word. I send it out and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” My words produce fruit. If they are life enhancing, my life will bear fruit accordingly.

The words we speak into others’ lives are just as important, especially those closest to us. Are our words to our loved ones enriching or are they destructive? Someone very creative came up with the acronym, T.H.I.N.K. as a guide to ensuring the words we speak to others are edifying.

  1. First, is what you are saying TRUE? Is it true about the situation, person or event? Is it an honest assessment or is it based on fear, ego, jealousy or judgement? Consider the motive behind what you are saying.
  2. Second, consider, is it HELPFUL? So often we can mistake criticism for helpfulness. We think if we point out what the person is doing wrong we are “helping” them. But are we? In most cases, aren’t we simply finding fault to boost our own pride and self-importance? Again, if we examine our motive, we will have the answer.
  3. Third, is what you are saying INSPIRING? Our words have power to build up and tear down. Are your words motivating and encouraging to your loved ones or are they self-esteem breakers? How are you using the power of your word with your child, spouse, sibling or co-worker? Are they being exalted by your praise or condemned by your judgement?
  4. Fourth, are your words NECESSARY? In business, there is the concept of “adding value”, meaning that one’s efforts augment the status quo. If there is no “value add” then the effort is wasted. Don’t waste your words. Use your power for good. You can be constructive without being critical. You can disagree without disapproving. You can correct without being caustic.
  5. Finally, is what you are saying KIND? Kindness is so underrated. Simple acts of kindness make a tangible difference to our environment, and ultimately to the world we live in. We show kindness to others by using words that make them feel good, words that bring a smile to their face, words which make them beam with pride. Our kindness begets more kindness. It self-perpetuates. When in doubt, just say whatever is kind.

Philippians 4:8 gives us further guidance on how we should think in our interactions with others: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Your word is your wand. Use it to uplift, inspire, and enrich others, and to create a beautiful and prosperous life.

Please share how you use your words for good.

Natalie Jobity is an inspirational author, freelance writer and editor, and marketing consultant. She consults with would be authors and writers on honing their “voice” so their words have the desired impact.  She is the author of the Amazon Best-selling style guide: Frumpy to Fabulous: Flaunting It. Your Ultimate Guide to Effortless Style.Contact her at nattyjay5@yahoo.com