The Art of Goodbyes

Goodbyes can be tricky. So much so that some people avoid them entirely. I believe there is an art to saying goodbye. It involves understanding what you are genuinely feeling, speaking your emotion to the person and being ok with any awkwardness that might be present.
I said goodbye to our exchange student yesterday. He spent the last 10 months living with us, learning about American culture, attending high school, teaching us about his life in Norway, and finding his way into our hearts. It wasn’t always easy. We experienced the ups and downs of real relationships. We had arguments, there were tears, frustration, irritation, laughter, understanding and love. When it came time to send him home, I felt a heavy sadness in my heart and I cried.
When we spend significant time with another person it is natural to feel sadness when we part ways. Out of my sadness and not knowing exactly what to say, I wanted to say things like, “We’ll see you in Norway,” but didn’t. I said very little other than, “It’s hard to say goodbye to you after spending 10 months together.” I usually try to fill the uneasy moments in a good bye with a promise of seeing each other soon. I wanted to say that but for one of the first times in my life I didn’t. It isn’t that I don’t hope to visit him in Norway, it’s just not on the horizon. I let my goodbye sit there.
I learned about healthier goodbyes when the Counselor Training Program with John Townsend ended in March. Dr. Townsend coached us on how to say goodbye and let it sit without the avoid-the-uncomfortableness filler words. It was the first time I gave goodbyes any thought. I like this concept of being healthy even with a goodbye.

The Benefits of Assertiveness Part 1

I’m in a Counselor Training Program with Dr. John Townsend and Scott Makin.  One day out of every month I am in Indianapolis being challenged in my personal growth as well as learning all about the counseling approach of Drs. John Townsend and Henry Cloud.  The training involves teaching time and small group counseling also called process groups.  During one of the process groups I stumbled upon a realization that I have a crippling fear of being assertive.  It doesn’t usually show up in my office with clients, but anywhere else I shrink back or regret having opened my mouth.  I have thought that assertiveness is negative.  It’s not that I have never been assertive but when I am I feel like I am pushy and bossy.  Maybe those things are true because I am not very skilled at being assertive but I am gaining an understanding of the importance of being assertive.
At the end of each training day, the 21 of us who are participating take time to share our homework for the next month.  It has to be measurable and challenge us in some way to be stretched.  I came up with the assignment that I would write 10 things that happen when I am assertive.  John added that I write 10 things that happen when others are assertive.  As I pondered the positive results of my assertiveness it was a bit difficult.  I kept running into the negative piece.  When I wrote about the benefits of others being assertive it created a shift inside of me.  I saw how important assertiveness is in the health and growth of the world.  Our very existence depends on assertiveness. This shift opened up a new value for my own assertiveness and the ideas began flowing out of me.
Here they are:
Ten good things that happen when I am assertive
1. I’m not left wondering if I missed out by holding my tongue
2. I feel a sense of accomplishment even if things don’t turn out my way
3. I connect with people versus holding back and being closed
4. I finish things (I’ve spent most of my life dreaming things up but not doing anything with the ideas)
5. I experience forward momentum instead of just swirling in the same old place
6. My creativity is flowing
7. I use the gifts I’ve been given
8. I model self-respect and reap the benefit of respecting myself
9. I create an opportunity for others to find healing
10. My needs get met
When others are assertive
1. Lives are changed physically (like a Dr. helping someone or a person seeking care or health)
2. People’s eternities are altered
3. Dreams are accomplished
4. People are protected
5. Connection happens
6. Employment is secured
7. Babies are born
8. Marriages are saved
9. Truth is spoken
10. Change happens
So here’s my challened to you:  Write ten things that happen when others are assertive and your own list of ten things that happen when you are assertive.  Ponder that list and then get out there and go for it!  The focus isn’t so much on what you accomplish, just that you are actively, instead of passively, living the life that you have been given.  There’s a parable in the Bible that talks about using the talent we’ve been given.  The one who buries the talent is the one who loses out.  Those who go for it, knowing that there is a risk of screwing things up, are the ones who benefit.  So take one step today to move toward really living!