I am releasing a book and it’s going to be AWESOME!

So after many years of blogging, we are in the finishing phases of releasing an ebook on Amazon Kindle that you can view on a computer, a smartphone, Kindle, or other device.

Look Before You Leap is going to be released this fall, 2015. It’s meant for Christians of any age who have decided to start dating.

We all know people who have ended up in a relationship that sucked…but sometimes, that guy/girl looked like such a nice person beforehand. What happened?
And how do I make sure that I, myself, am not like that?

TO STAY UPDATED: “Like” or follow my author page on Facebook (Carson Clews). This way you can get free stuff and stay updated on the release of my book!

LookBeforeYouLeap
Coming soon to a theater near you. Or…a book.

Freedom from Freedom: Relational Freedom (Part 3 – Compromise)

So let’s wrap up this “relational freedom” part with a simple string of statements.

  1. If many things are important to you, then you are a stressful person.
  2. If you choose wisely what things shall be important to you and what things won’t be important to you, you will stress others (and yourself) out less.
  3. Therefore, the more you are willing to let things NOT go your way, the easier your social life will be. The easier your relationships will be. And the more people will enjoy hanging out with you.

 

And here we arrive at the art of compromise…an art that is a MUST in any successful relationship, marriage, friendship, family relationship, etc.

 

Now, before we move on, I want to add a few points here…

  1. Everybody has SOMETHING that is important to them. We aren’t talking about giving everything up, ever.
  2. Jesus teaches us to turn the other cheek, and that it is okay to let ourselves be wronged. However, an honest evaluation of how Christlike we ARE is in order…not an evaluation of how Christlike we SHOULD BE. We SHOULD, as Christians, be willing to let ourselves be wronged and not to keep a record of wrongs (because that is how Jesus is). But, we aren’t there yet. To ignore that fact in a marriage, or any relationship, is naïve.

 

Remember: If one is taking, then one is giving.

So this is where we reintroduce our “Freedom from Freedom” thesis…one finds their freedom when they go the exact opposite direction of freedom. One loses their freedom when they pursue their freedom.

I believe that this is true in human relationships, especially on the topic of “roommates” of any type (Including spouse and family!)

 

For example, let’s analyze Sarah and myself.

Example 1 – Household cleanliness

Sarah: Wants the freedom to have a clean and orderly house.

Carson: Wants the freedom to drop his controllers and socks wherever he wants at any given moment.

Applying the freedom from freedom concept: If Sarah’s freedom is realized, Carson loses his freedom. If Carson’s freedom is realized, Sarah loses her freedom. It is impossible for both of us to have what we want.

Solution: Carson has bucket for his controllers within close access to couch. If Carson leaves socks around, he receives a gentle reminder (death threat) that they should go away (Just kidding about the death threat). Sarah lets the house get a little messy, but not too messy that she can’t stand it.

 

Example 2 – Money

Carson: By nature, a spender of money. Wants everything ever. Wants XboxOne, PS4, a Microsoft Surface, a bunch of games. Also wants to travel to every ATA (American Taekwondo Association) event ever. Left to himself, would live in a fantasy dreamworld in which money actually does grow on trees (this dreamworld is found on the highway about two miles north of Bankruptcy).

Sarah: By nature, a saver of money. Always looking to cut down costs, expenses, etc. Frequently asks questions like “Do we really need to buy ______ this month?” These questions will be asked regardless of how much money we make on any given month.

Freedom from freedom concept applied: If Sarah let me be free to do what I want, she would feel “panicked”, and rightfully so. If everything went the way Sarah wanted it to, I would feel “trapped.”

Solution: Sarah lets Carson have his Xbox One and a few games. Also lets him have Gamefly membership so that he doesn’t constantly desire to buy every new game. Carson gives up a few things, makes sure that he always has a mental grip on the finances, and makes sure that emergency fund is where Sarah wants it to be (within reason).

 

Example 3 – Time

Carson: Likes free time and alone time. If had his own way, he would play video games and type at coffee shops all day, and then would spend “leftover” time with Sarah. (Yes, I know. Not a good policy for marriage.)

Sarah: Likes quality one on one time. Self-admittedly would never get enough Carson time (Not because I’m so great but because quality time is so important to Sarah).

Freedom from freedom concept applied: Whenever one of these two “needs” is out of balance, the other person starts subconsciously pulling back. If I spend a whole day alone just dinking around with my hobbies, Sarah starts to project to me a really “needy” vibe, because she does actually NEED time with me. If I spend all day with Sarah, I start to become this empty brain shell until I get some alone time.

Solution: Still learning this one.

However, I have found that if I take the initiative to give Sarah quality time, she is MORE than happy to let me veg out for a while. Sarah has also found this to be true with me…if she gives me alone time, I will be more than happy to give quality time back.

 

In summary, the word “compromise” might sound like a word that involves giving something up…but it’s amazing how much you gain by giving something up.

Freedom from Freedom: Relational Freedom (Part 2 – Stress)

At some point in your life, if you are old enough to actually be interested in sitting down and reading a blog, you remember one or both of these experiences, probably both.

  1. Going to some grouping of people (school, youth group, activity), hoping to make new friends.
  2. Going to some grouping of people (school, youth group, activity) hoping to make new friends with attractive people of the opposite sex who could possibly become a romantic interest.

Now, my nerdy brain has been overanalyzing these situations for years, and I have learned a lot, though I have much, much more to learn. But back in middle school, high school, starting college, etc., I didn’t really have any idea of what I was looking for. My guess is that most of us had no idea what we were looking for.

 

But as time went on, most of us learned, even if we didn’t know we were learning. We quickly learned that some people were easy to get along with, and some people were hard to get along with.

 

Now, going back, does anybody really desire to be grouped into the “hard to get along with” category? Or do we all wish that we were easy to get along with?

 

Can that be done? Can we become people who are easy to get along with? I believe that we can. In fact, I believe that becoming someone who is easy to get along with ties in perfectly to our “Freedom from Freedom” thesis. Those who seek freedom lose it. Those who give up freedom find it.

 

“Basement” vs. “Balcony” people

 

Sarah (my wife) was taught this: There are basement people and there are balcony people. Balcony people lift you up. Basement people drag you down.

Perhaps this idea can be simplified into the following: there are positive people and negative people. There are people that add to your life and your enjoyment of it, and there are people who cost emotional energy, who take away from your life.

Many of us will be taught to put positive people in our lives and to avoid negative people. I think that, if somebody wants a happy, peaceful life, this is great advice. However, I believe that if somebody is a Christ-follower, this is self-centered advice. But I will get there with a post-script. For now, let us keep our focus here: “Am I somebody that people want to be around, or am I someone that people want to avoid?”

 

People want to avoid basement people, but be around balcony people.

People want to avoid negative people, but be around positive people.

And let’s reword this concept one more time…people want to avoid people that stress them out, but be around people who take stress away.

 

Thus, I believe that the answer to this question (Am I somebody that people want to be around?) can be found in an analysis of “stress”.

 

The magic formula for stress…

Stress happens when two things are true:

  1. Something is important to you.
  2. Either things are not going your way, or you are not sure things are going to go your way.

That is it. If you have those two elements, you have stress. If either one of those are not true, you have no stress.

 

Therefore, the magic formula for de-stress…

  1. Have things go your way, or…
  2. Have something not be important to you.

 

Now, if nothing stresses you out, then that means…

  1. Either everything is going your way, or…
  2. Nothing is important to you.

 

But now, let’s finish talking about ourselves and start talking about how we affect others. Very rarely does stress happen in a bubble…when we are stressed, we stress out other people. And who wants to be around someone that stresses them out?

Now, looking at all the above “rules of two” on the topic of stress, I think it is safe to dismiss the first one: Nothing always goes right for someone. So whether someone is stressful or not has to be tied into how important things are for that person.

 

THE MAIN POINT: The more things that are IMPORTANT to you, the more stressful you are as a person.

Now, if NOTHING is important to you, then you are a depressed, sad individual who will never accomplish anything in life. But chances are, that isn’t you. Many of us have things that aren’t important to us that should be important…but I think it’s safe to say that ALL of us hold certain things as important that aren’t really that important.

 

In order to find out what is important to us, we simply ask this question: What do we get mad about?

I am going to present some scenarios. In each scenario, answer these one or two questions: A) Do you get upset? B) What is so important to you that you would get mad over it?

  1. Someone scratches your car, accidentally.
  2. Someone scratches your car, deliberately.
  3. Your wife walks in front of you during a heated moment of Titanfall or CoD. When she passes…you are watching your opponent’s killcam of yourself.
  4. Your shirt gets stained.
  5. A random passer-by insults you.
  6. Your mother or father insult you.
  7. Westboro Baptist Church is prancing about with their “God Hates Fags” signs again.
  8. You get a speeding ticket.
  9. Somebody is talking about your friend behind your back.
  10. You come home, and the house is a mess.
  11. Your child dropped your phone in the toilet.
  12. Your child lied to you about who ate the last starburst.
  13. Your child lied to you about what happened at school that day.
  14. Somebody told a lie to your girlfriend or boyfriend about you.
  15. Somebody told your girlfriend or boyfriend about a mistake you made. (A true one, not a lie)

 

Some of you would get upset in all these instances. Some of you would get upset in just a few. But here are the final two questions for this post, before we move on…

  1. What did you find out about what things are important to you?
  2. How many things are important to you?

 

Continued next post…