All posts by Dave & Nan Dhuet

About Dave & Nan Dhuet

Counselors at Christian Assembly Church in Los Angeles, California.

Hanging On To the Good Times

Good TImes

This week Nan went through a surgery and while she was at the hospital my 93-year old father was admitted to another hospital for rapidly failing health. Yes, in the same day. Although Nan’s has turned out to be successful, I don’t expect it to be the same for my father. These are times when all the past squabbles mean nothing and the happy memories are cherished. This is one of them.

But the lesson to be learned here is to anticipate a day like this, and put the things you do today into perspective. Whatever you create in the here and now is what you will have to look back on. And you never know when “that day” will come.

We had prayerfully anticipated a good outcome for Nan’s surgery although there were some unknowns. But as anyone who has had a hospital procedure knows, you sign a lot of paperwork that reminds you of the scary reality – there is always a risk of things going badly.

Over my lifetime I have let anxiety rule some of my choices. I have not done things that would have created good memories for Nan and me. And because of my sinful nature I have created some bad ones, too. As I sat in the hospital waiting for the surgery to be finished I thought: “What if this was it? What if there were no more memories to be made?”

I think it is human nature to believe that you will always have enough time to do what you would want to do. But it’s a lie. You can miss it. Circumstances change. Health and energy fades. The years get away from you while you raise kids and go to work.

For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.  2 Corinthians 6:2

This isn’t a justification for going out and blowing all your money or abandoning all your restraints. Most of what is important will fall into other categories. It’s about investing your time wisely. It’s about being kind in your relationships. It’s about taking vacations and talking to each other rather than staring at your smart phone or computer. It’s about not accepting overtime just so you can buy more “stuff”.

I had an offer from someone to sit with me at the hospital. That meant a lot. That’s what true friendship looks like. Our church encourages building that kind of community and those kinds of relationships. Even the hard times can be good times if you don’t face them alone.

So what are the good times you want to hang on to?

As I get older some of the ones I used to think were good times are now regretful memories. We all have a past, so perhaps you are like me. These days I am more concerned with building significant or eternal ones. How about you?

Whining – The Achilles Heel Of Leaders

Whining

I was thinking about great leaders – you know – the ones that inspire trust and confidence. One quality I readily recognized was their ability to manage their emotions. In times of stress they are able to express feelings like sadness, disappointment or anger with dignity and restraint. You rarely hear a great leader whining, because they know they will lose respect from those they lead.

What is so bad about whining? It is a not-so-subtle way of blaming. It is a form of giving up power and shunning responsibility. Those are not qualities that we seek in a leader. We want our leaders to show strength in the face of adversity. We want them to be able to bear the weight of challenges and crises.

On the receiving end, I have observed that leaders are drained by whiners. Show me a leader with a heart, surrounded by a bunch of complainers, and I will show you a tired and frustrated man or woman. The great leaders are not crushed by them, but are burdened with the extra, and often unnecessary load.

I am sure that all you moms and dads out there would agree. Whining kids (especially teens) can make the day seem longer than it should be. And ask a husband or wife with a perennially whining spouse if they look forward to going home after a long work day.

You don’t have to be the leader of a country or large corporation to qualify as a leader. Any collection of people will have a leader, if only informally. Every family has a leader. For 27 years my partners and I led a small business and it was a challenge to keep our complaints among the three of us and not share them with our employees. I acknowledge that we failed many times, and then had to deal with the fallout. I know we lost respect.

 If you are a leader what can you do?

First and foremost a leader must have a safe place to process their feelings. They must be able to release the negative energy that builds up around responsibility.

Secondly a leader must be intentional about communication. He or she must have a good “filter” and rehearse important messages.

Thirdly, a good leader must develop a tough skin and manage what may feel like personal attacks. Often the opposition is to the situation rather than the leader herself. But that is not always the case. Sometimes it really is a direct hit.

Lastly, a leader must expect that whiners are part of the package. Choosing or accepting a leadership position means that when things get tough or go wrong the leader will become a target. They must demonstrate care for those who are challenging them. In short, they must be the calmest and most mature person in the room.

Are Family Getaways Good For You?

Getaways

As I sit here in our hideaway in the mountains I realize the value of down time for couples and families. Nan says “I feel younger here.” For me I just feel more engaged and connected. Both of us tend to be over-responsible by nature. I guess it’s a family of origin issue long ingrained by years of reinforcing behavior. Whatever the reason, if we’re home, we are never far from our jobs.

When at home the simple tasks of everyday life seem more rushed and intrusive, whereas when we are away they are the leisurely fillers of our day. Cooking is an adventure rather than a necessity. Going marketing is another voyage of exploration. Who knows what we may find? When we are away we talk more to each other. We read more and dream more.

That’s the way we approach time away. You may be very different. For you time away may mean not having to attend to the mundane at all. What might bring you joy is abdicating the routines of daily life and letting someone else attend to them. Your goal is just being together without any responsibilities and going at your own pace. Or perhaps it’s a recreational pursuit or exciting journey that brings you refreshment. No problem.

We have discovered that many families that seem to have elevated levels of conflict at home do very well when they detach from routine. Time away together restores and renews them. Often they return from vacations vowing to spend more time taking breaks from the daily grind. Those that actually follow through seem to grow in their relationships.

There is another group that brings their conflicts with them into their down time. They fight on vacation. They fight on dates. They complain that their partner doesn’t spend time with them – in the midst of  their partner spending time with them. They can turn ice-cream into vinegar. Perhaps what they discover is that they don’t really like each other that much. Or they just bring selfish and negative attitudes with them wherever they go.

I love where Paul the apostle says in Philippians that he has achieved contentment in all circumstances. What a great perspective to have! I must admit that I am not there yet, but I do get a lot closer when I am able to detach for a while.

Kids love time away. It’s often what they remember best after they have grown into adults. Although my family brought conflict with us on vacations, I wouldn’t trade the great camping adventures we had in the California mountains and beaches back in the 1950’s and 60’s.. It was something we took with us into our marriage, minus most of the conflicts.

We highly recommend that couples get away regularly without the kids as well. Even a night or weekend away can do wonders for a stressed relationship. Yes, you adore your kids, but sometimes you need the lover in you to be set free. That suppressed childlike  part of you needs to come out and play. By the way, it’s never going to happen if you don’t intentionally prioritize and plan it. So start a “getaway fund” and contribute to it regularly. If you put it on the credit card you will just create more stress.  Now get out the calendar and circle some dates.