[I have revised and updated this post from a couple of years ago.]
Are your problems like other peoples’ problems?
Have you ever thought to yourself that you were the ONLY one concerned about . . . (name it).
Let’s take a few minutes and look at the 8 biggest problems people face (whether they know it or not). See where you fall out in comparison.
This is not a scientific study**. These are my personal reflections over three decades of serving people. As a busy, involved Life Coach I get lots of questions from clients, friends, and family. They all center around the following eight concerns:
1. Relational Issues. Human beings are relational. Those who aren’t are considered abnormal, and for good reason . . . they are. Men relate to women, women to men, children relate to parents, people to employers, teachers, and government. Everything in life revolves around relationship. Why are so many so bad at them? Relational equilibrium is what Life Coaches help to establish. People sometimes need a new or different perspective on their old habits of relating that aren’t working for them. Perhaps they need a new mental window to look through when they’re communicating with others.
If you want to see shallow, superficial relationships and attempts at “love,” just watch some of the contemporary reality TV programs. The problem with watching them of course is that they have nothing to teach you. Unless you learn from them that relationships need to be other-oriented rather than selfish and self-serving. Who would want a “friend” like some of the people you see on the “Bachelorette” or “Jersey Shore?” I’m hoping these aren’t the new “reality.” If they are, we should add a ninth problem to our list: Shallow Reality TV.
2. Fear of Running Out of Money. Will the money last? Will I have a job tomorrow? Most people are concerned about their income, especially the lack of income. They are concerned about expenses. He says, “She shops like there’s no tomorrow. She can’t possibly wear all the shoes she owns!” She says, “He thinks a boat is more important than renovating our bedroom or kitchen. If it were up to him, I wouldn’t have anything.”
Some have more than enough but worry that they’ll lose it. Others have just enough to squeak by today but are not sure about tomorrow. Some say they don’t care . . . and among those are the truly content and the obviously deluded. Life and death, sickness and health are tied up in these issues. FREE ADVICE: The best place to be in regard to finances is completely out of debt.
3. Health Issues. What happens if I get sick? How will we get by? OR I’m so tired of hospitals and doctors. I’m sick of sickness! How can I keep myself healthy? Many are deeply in debt through no fault of their own and see no way out. Many folks I talk with are ignorant of healthy nutrition. Others have begun to take seriously the way our food in America is raised and processed (for a real education watch the documentary Food, Inc.–you can stream it on Netflix). They are opting in on organic produce and fruits, grass-fed cattle, and free-range foul. Some worry about their health future. There are solutions that do not involve medical insurance. More and more believers I know are taking advantage of group sharing programs like Samaritan Ministries (for those who are disciples of Jesus).
4. Anxiety over Finding or Losing Loved ones. Am I lovable? Will someone care for me? Am I worth caring about? Am I perfect enough? Can I find mister/ms right? Will I ever find someone like . . . ? Love is at the center of most relationships. All but the most dysfunctional people care deeply about finding, keeping, and losing love. Yet no two people can agree upon what “true love” is. Some say there’s no such thing . . . and they have enough broken relationships to prove it. Relational issues in families, between families have escalated since the late sixties, early seventies. I’m not a sociologist, so I can’t give you the reasons for this. What I can say is that the majority of people I speak with or coach desire whole, functional relationships. Others don’t want to pay the price to change. They want the OTHER person to change. Our difficulties are always easier to blame on someone else when we’re too immature to take responsibility for the way we relate.
Abandonment, rejection, and loneliness have attacked every one of us through some relationship. Good reason exists for us all to be love-shy. Yet, people who can’t or won’t love will remain incomplete and dysfunctional. Love is after all what our Creator says we were created for. All the negative experiences are the result, not of love, but of SELF-love.
5. Religious Questions. Is there a God? Or is this life all there is? Are we alone in the Universe? What if there is a God and I’m wrong? Do I end up in Hell or Heaven? What are the requirements? Who’s right? Muslims? Jews? Buddhists? Hindus? What’s the big deal about Jesus? Why are Christians so insistent on Him for everybody? Do we really need religion? These are not problems for some, but for those who deeply examine their lives, they have to come to terms with whether they want to live a Tea Bag Philosophy of life or encounter and relate to the One who claims to be Creator, and lover of their soul. The reason Jesus is such a big deal, the reason that every known religion has had to come to terms with Him is because He claimed a relationship with God as Father. Then he rose from the dead and was seen by over 500 credible witnesses. His followers number in the 10’s of millions. Like Him, they claim that God has “revealed” Himself to them. They experience fellowship with their Father-God. Other religions make claims as well, but of a very different sort. None claims that their God is the God who is Love. No other God has demonstrated that love by reaching out to human beings to bring them into his Household. For this reason, and many others, I’m a Christian spiritual formation Life Coach.
6. Concerns about Death. What happens when I die? Of course, the obvious answer is “You’re dead. It won’t matter to you.” Don’t we just die, go into the ground, and float around as a spirit looking to hang out in a place that was special to us? Most of the cultural views regarding death are based upon a misinformed Epistemology–Most people are clueless about immortality, death, the grave, and what happens after (including, and sometimes most especially, religious people). You can change that. You can know what happens when you die. That’s why beyond the grave books are such hot sellers. That’s why Life Coaches, who also deal with spiritual formation, can bring clarity to many of these issues.
7. Global War. Aren’t we headed toward destruction of the world? Why can’t we just all live together? Why can’t we live at peace? For the same reason that people struggle with so many of these life questions. Most people look only on the surface and refuse to see the invisible, underlying realities that shape our existence. I guess they feel that they can’t impact those unseen things. So now combine misplaced Epistomology with a misplaced Anthropology. War is the result of men who are unsatisfied with what they have (greed) OR of men who think that they have to institute their religious laws on everyone else (religious legalistic totalitarianism). By the way, Christians to not believe they must institute religious laws on everyone. Quite the opposite. They fulfill and satisfied the law in their relationship to Jesus Christ. What do Imean? Take a week and read, then reread The New Testament in the Bible. Then you’ll understand.
Think long and hard over these two causes (greed and religious law) before you’re tempted to move on. The lust of man, the pride of life, and the desires that he can’t control all drive him to take what is not his or want what is someone else’s. He wants to control, to enforce his will upon others. No god offered by other religions encourages freedom or liberty. They can’t. They want to control. The One True God–Yahweh–is the God of freedom and love. A person adopted as His child, is truly free and beloved.
8. Concerns about the Future. What should I do with my life? Where are things headed? Scores of questions abound regarding the future–what it holds, how people are to face it, perhaps leverage it. The future is big business too. So naturally people wonder if it’s OK to seek out fortune tellers, palm readers, psychics, and other practitioners of divination. As a Christian spiritual formation Life Coach, I share God’s view regarding those practices. They open people to demonization by seeking future information from supernatural sources–which God has expressly forbidden (not because He’s a Blue Meanie–but for our safety). I explain that two sources are available for believers to KNOW their intended future, including preparing for unforeseen events. But that’s another post.
The eight biggest problems people voice to me seem to cover most things human. The specifics change, but the concerns seem to group together under one of the eight–relational issues, fear of running out of money, health issues, anxiety over finding or losing loved ones, religious questions, concerns about death, global war, and concerns about the future.
QUESTION: Can you think of any BIG problems I’ve overlooked?
©2011, David C Alves
**MY RESEARCH: Just to give you some context to why I know something about this topic: I’m speaking from tens of thousands of conversations for over twenty-six years as a Life Coach. The questions and concerns people bring to me tend to be repetitive. I also speak as someone who has weathered bankruptcy and am now completely out of dept. I have been divorced and have been happily married now for 32 years in my second marriage. I was lost and have been found. I was rejected and am accepted. I have defeated panic attack disorder and quit smoking and drinking decades ago. All this just to say, I’m not someone who can’t empathize with the people I coach. Character and wisdom come from weathering life’s storms, caring for others, being teachable, and taking sound counsel.
- Life Coaching Tips (womanby1design.wordpress.com)
- Why I Despise “Religion” (davidcalves.com)
- One2One Life and Parenting Coaching, LLC offers Free Parent and Life Coaching Consultations for Palm Beach County Residents (prweb.com)
- Lust, Love, or TRUE Love? (davidcalves.com)
Many men and women today have traded their real need for a false need. We get all upset when people cram religion down our throats, and rightly so. But we didn’t get upset at all when Hollywood crammed phony fulfillment and hedonism down our throats.
We have to take a backward glance at classic needs as expressed in the great literature of history in order to reclaim our rightful heritage and inheritance.
Guys, do you know what her greatest need is? No, it’s not security. She just thinks it is. Many women are unable to recognize their real need until they hear it expressed and take the time to reflect on it and reconnect with it. If she hasn’t gotten so far away from her own pneumatic core (her spiritual core-source), then when she does really hear her real need verbalized, she’s immediately able to say “Yes, that’s it!”
Ladies, do you know his? No, it’s not sex. He just thinks so. He’s also unable to recognize his real need until he hears it again and considers how truly accurate the ancients were with regard to it.
How did you lose touch with your real needs? Hundreds, no thousands, of hours of television and movies. Which all were written by people who have lost touch with classic thought and humanity. Many of those who write have even lost touch with their own pneumatic core. As a result, they channel spiritless relationships and cold, modern and post-modern solipsism.
Well, that’s my opinion anyhow.
So let’s cut to the chase and answer our two questions
What’s HER greatest need?
What’s HIS greatest need?
By the way, what I’m about to share is not opinion . . . it is FACT!
Her greatest need is: TO BE TREASURED–loved devotedly and totally. Loved in such a way that she knows you understand her and treasure her. She’s first . . . before work, before football, before your own comfort. You lay down your life, your goals, your ambitions for her. Only one relationship should be ahead of her . . . your relationship to God. When it is, she’ll be assured that you will be devoted and true to her. And, get this . . . when you treasure her, she’ll naturally be ready to meet your greatest need guys . . .
His greatest need is: TO BE RESPECTED–to be held in high esteem. Respected in front of others. Respected when he speaks what is true and right. Respected when he is wise. Respected when he is treasuring you.
Ladies, want to be treasured? Respect him. He’ll actually live up to the respect you’re giving him. He’ll grow. He’ll improve to be what you’re calling him up to be.
Men, want to be respected . . . treasure her and make sure you’re being a man, not a little boy in men’s clothing. Lay down your self-centeredness for her. Make sure you know the difference between LUST and LOVE. You might want to read my posts if you don’t have this clear in your head.
Of course, all this only works if you chose somebody worthy of treasuring, respecting. Some women and some men are so self-centered and so far from their pneumatic core that they don’t know who they are or what they truly need. You can tell them by their love of “things.” They replace relationships with material things or wealth. They are shallow, thin, ghosts in people clothing–lost in this realm having forgotten their missing core.
Their only hope is to turn to Christ. He will become their core and restore their sanity. Then they’ll be renewed, reborn, and made capable to love and respect someone beside themselves.
This counsel has helped many over the decades of my sharing it. Let me know how it works out for you.
This is Part 2 of a 2 part series. Click here to read Pt.1
So what characterizes true love? Practically speaking, what does it look like? You may ask, “How will I know if I am truly loving someone with the third type of love you mentioned in Pt. 1–agape love?”
For centuries, western men and women have had one major source for their definition of true love. That source is the best selling book of all time and tops every list today–selling so many copies that the New York Times bestseller list doesn’t even list it anymore (otherwise, it would always be at the top). That source is the 66 books of the library known as The Bible.
I have not come across a better definitinon anywhere than the one given in the “First Letter to the Corinthians,” by the Apostle Paul. What many people do not understand is that the apostle was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In effect, what Paul has given us is God’s view of true love. This love is the love that was built into us. We don’t know why, but all of us long for true love. We are moved by romantic movies and brought to tears when the handsome prince sweeps the servant girl up in his arms and proposes to her. Why? What’s being touched inside us? Our response, if our hearts are still soft, come from deep within, from the place where we are made in the image of the God who has declared Himself to be LOVE.
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16, ESV) [emphasis mine]
Love and the Creator of agape love are intimately indivisible. So what does God list as the characteristics of true love?
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.” (1 Corinthians 13:1–8, ESV)
More specifically,God says, through Paul, that true love is:
- More important than language (human and spiritual)
- More important than supernatural attributes like:
- prophetic powers
- understanding of all mysteries and all knowledge
- More important than faith
- More important than charity and sacrificial giving
- Glad to see the best for others
- Gracious, and well-mannered
- Not self-seeking; does not insist on its own way; lays down its life for the other
- Not irritable
- Not resentful
- Does not take joy in what is wrong or in the suffering of others
- Joyful with what is true
- Willing to bear all things (carries the load)
- Willing to believe the best in every situation
- Always hopeful
- Always persevering, enduring
- Everlasting, never-ending
Impossible? No, this description defines true love . . . and this love really exists. But the only way we can love in this way is if our hearts are transformed by the God, who created us to love in this way. He is the One who can heal us to love deeply from the heart.
In Him, all our damage can be healed. We can be delivered from self and filled with His Spirit of love. If true love is possible, would you want to live even another minute without experiencing what you were created for?
This is the love God has for us. And this is the love He floods our life with . . . if we’re open. And if we’re willing to invite Him into the center of our love and affection. If so, He fits us to be filled with divine love–agape–and loves others through us.
I can tell you–from having experienced love apart from Him, and true love for another with Him at the center–that there is no comparison.
Because God has loved me, I can now love selflessly with the love I have recieved from Him.
My wife loves Jesus first and loves me with the love that fills her life from Him. This is a love beyond human effort. This is the same love God loves me with. And by it, I am healed and whole. This is true love and after 33years of marriage, it unfolds to be deeper every day.
I hope that you will not settle for less than is possible. I hope you are better able to recognize and evaluate what kind of love you are giving and receiving.
QUESTION: Have you given or received true love? Tell us about it.
- Lust, Love, or TRUE Love? (davidcalves.com)
This is Part 1 of a 2 part series.
Lust, love or true love . . . do you know the difference?
Though our modern culture has lost touch with how to recognize true love, my modest hope is that by the time you finish this post, you will be able to clearly see the difference between, lust, love, and true love and recognize true love when you see it.
As a foundation–a place to start–let’s look at a language other than English to help us out with this. Let’s look at Koine Greek. Why? Because in English, when he says “I love you,” but is only interested in your body, it’s not about love at all. It’s about eros.
The noun eros is equivalent to the English noun “lust.” Lust is a strong desire to possess or own; it is an extreme or insatiable desire “to have.” From eros we get the English word–“erotic”–which has nothing to do with true love. Rather, it is “love” which wants to own or possess you as an object of its desire. So eros may be a form of love, but not love for YOU. His profession of love shows more about self-love and lust, than about any desire for real intimacy with you or commitment to you. You are his object, his toy. You fulfill his need and desire. Of course, eros can be her motive as well. It works in both directions. When eros is through desiring its object, it turns its focus elsewhere–met him/her yet?
Relationships based upon eros (the majority of rap, hip-hop, and Hollywood romances) end in failure, human pain, and worse. Eros invites the wrong spirits into the relationship and bodies of those who “love” in this way may even house those wrong spirits. (More on spiritual connections or “soul ties” in another post).
And guys, when she says she loves you, but she’s unwilling to commit and that she wants to be your friend, you better understand that she’s not talking about true love, or eros, but about phileo. This word is love of a fellow person–as in brotherly love. Phileo–“brotherly love” and Delphos–“city”–are the word roots for the English word “Philadelphia”–“city of brotherly love.” But phileo is not TRUE love either. It is a friendship, companionship kind of love, which is important in a serious love relationship, but is not of itself “true love.” Not that phileo is a bad thing. Brotherly love is never bad, just not enough to build a life-long, lasting relationship upon.
Perhaps it’s phileo that best describes the majority of those short-term relationships built upon things like enjoying sports, or liking the same foods or music, or disliking the same people. But brotherly love usually lacks true, long-term commitment and self-sacrifice–the two values that are the basis for the third and final type of love under consideration–agape.
True love (as in the Princess Bride–“twoo love”) is expressed by the word agape. Agape is the divine love of classic literature. And yes, it truly does exist. This kind of love is the love that is generated by moving from phileo through self-motives, and beyond, into a true and real desire to give. This is true love.
When a group of children were asked what they thought love was, one little girl answered, “Love is when your mommy reads you a bedtime story. True love is when she doesn’t skip any pages.” [even though she’s dog-tired]
Agape love is generous. It gives of itself. Agape is self sacrificial and committed. This is the love that will not take from the beloved. This is the love that lays its own life down to fulfill the life of the other.
Agape is not a 50-50% love–that’s phileo. Agape is 100-100%. In marriage seminars, Marcy and I share that true lovers give 100%. This love is the kind that characterizes great loves–that lasted through decades of difficulty, suffering and separation. Our quick-fix, fast foods–give-it-to-me-now–society and culture knows very little of this love. Any surprise we have the highest divorce rate in American history?
Knowing what true love is frees you from all other forms and forgeries. You can be a true lover and be truly loved. As a human being, you were predestined to be truly loved. So what characterizes true love? Practically, what does it look like? How will I know if I am truly loving someone? For sake of word length, and your attention, I answer this in my next post–Part 2.