Today, I walked into a storybook.
The excursion was unplanned. My aim was to hide away in the library, both to study and to enter silence. Today is defining dreary. Rainfall pours at a slight tilt and even when it ceases, everything is in a constant state of wet. The weather brings out the lonely side of life. So when I passed by the warmly lit art gallery, I was drawn in.
The gallery featured a children’s book “The Boy, The Kite, and The Wind.” Each page of the book featured its own frame. I walked inside the gallery and entered into the story.
I love the simplicity and power of children’s books. How such power is spoken in the tattered, lost kite. The strong hand of the father resting on the son’s shoulder. The illustrator even caught the gleam in the little boy’s eye that defines youthfulness and hope.
The gallery forced me to pause. Though I am entering adulthood, I am still a child. As the father found meaning in the lost kite and the strong wind, Abba interweaves these powerful symbols in our daily lives.
I wonder where my kite is today and if I will reflect on the power of the invisible wind.
Maybe today is not so lonely.
True Life: I cannot get enough of these songs. My sister is about to rip my computer speakers out so she does not have to hear them one more time.
[Warning: Have you read Part III of the theory yet? (IWOs are freaking out right now) If you do not know what an IWO is make sure to check out Part III. It will work your world! (Or for the RHRs…maybe not) ]
Ironically, the end has a way of reminding us about the beginning. When e.j. asked me to finish this tag-team effort of theory producing, I could not help but think, “Why did we start thinking about this in the first place?” In order address this question, let us remember how e.j. most tactfully summarized the relationship-temperament theory in Part I:
” Those of the same temperament (not necessarily personality) tend to gravitate toward one another and share, in whatever fashion, a longer lasting relationship.”
A longer lasting relationship.
That was the part that caught me. It does not even take two-feet past the age of sixteen to witness (or even experience) failed relationships. How often do we see couples past the honeymoon stage consistently enjoy each other? When you witness it–in its most genuine tested-through-time-and trial form–it almost feels as magical as those 90 minute romantic comedies.
Because I can name a lot of couples who stand each other, but rarely that enjoy and do life together.
Now, am I saying that our relationship-temperament theory is the cure to our mediocre or tense relationships? Heck no. If that was the case, we would have taken this one to the publishers. We would be making millions! (You could finally open your pancake house e.j.!)
But we would be lying to ourselves if we never admitted that we deeply wonder why some couples seem to have it and others don’t. Nothing brings out our questions more when that “perfect couple,” the ones who were really going to make it….break-up. Or split. Or divorce. We tried not to hold them on a pedestal, but seeing them fall attests to how high we raised them. It’s baffling and disheartening.
So, I mentally lined up all those couples who made it over the 20 year mark, and seem to still enjoy each other. I know I have not seen all their trials or all the nights they almost gave up. But when I began thinking about it, I realize that though they were very different, they all seemed to have similar dispositions to each another. They could relax and stress together. Their range of emotion was similar. It was if they had similar disposition heartbeats to one another.
So, e.j. and I sat down with margaritas and sweet potato fries (does this bring down the validity of our theory? 🙂 ) and took a “temperament heart monitor” to different couples we knew that had and had (definitely) not worked. We found patterns, exceptions, and funny high school dating stories.
So, what this theory comes down to is:
1) Its a theory. Not fool proof by any means. Especially now that you know about the sweet potato fries.
2) I truly hope and pray you find or found someone who you can do life “with,” in a healthy sense of the “with” word. I do hope you relax and stress around the same range, because how much of life is spent between those two crests? When you have similar lifestyle rhythms, its easier to stay on beat with each other. Relationships are hard work (please repeat 10 times to let my point get across), so wouldn’t it be an advantage to wind down and address stress in similar ways? You might stop thinking you are a dating a crazy person, when you realize you do the exact same thing.
3) I believe relationships are worth the fight to find ways to do life together, especially/definitely marriage. As young people though, I also think we try to quickstep with someone who just waltzes. The quickstep is not better than the waltz, just a different.
Maybe…just maybe…we would stop stepping on so many toes if we were doing the same dance.
Welcome all loyal e.j. blog followers! The long awaited “Part II” of the “Temperament Theory” has relocated to this blog. Hope you enjoy my added thoughts as well. If you asking yourself “Temper..what?” please enjoy Part I of the theory.
I must confess as I write I am in the throngs of grand domestic endeavor (Shout out Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Swirl Fudgy Cookies)So, every fourteen minutes there will be a short intermission…well, if this was in real time of course.
**Also important to note the importance of having all ingredients before you start making the batter. Curse you light brown sugar.
OK, back the theory. Here is another opportunities where you can define your (or someone else’s) temperament, which may further define who you should start mozing-on-over at the next awkward singles ice cream social (kidding). But honestly, we think its worthwhile to differentiate between personality and temperament. It might reveals great similarities with someone you thought was the “exact opposite.”
2. Define: How stress is handled
We have all had those moments. The forgotten writing assignment. Dead stop traffic. Hovering deadlines. Someone who defines ‘gabber’ and ‘inconsiderate.’ The dreaded relationship miscommunication. What do you do?
Well some, as I like to call it, “hit the fan.” They blow up and freak out. Not in a violent or abusive type of way, but rather all their life appears to be going the drain. All must stop until the stress goes away. This means DTRs (define the relationship) or RTR (repair the relationship) until the break of dawn. Or pushing all other priorities aside until the project is completed. They could be the most type-A person you know, the procrastinator, or something in-between. The important distinction is that the stress gets really big–all consuming–and then gets taken care. All is truly well and gone when the stress has passed.
And then there is the push-downer aka the “manager.” These are the type that want to minimize the stress so they can figuratively “step over it.” While our friends above want it all in the open, these friends want their stress in bite-size pieces. There may even be aspects of denial, but not in an unhealthy way. Only aspects of the stress are considered at a time. They just want it manageable and will take the long time to conquer it. Their process may be slower, but sure does not have the drama of the ‘hit the fan’ style. And that’s the way they like it.
There are those who need to externally process it all. It isn’t real stress until it has been named. Some to-do list the junk out of their stress. Now that is written down, they can move forward. Some need a break activity were the stress does not exist. Unlike our “managing stressers,” they do go into complete denial…for a season. They go a jog, watch a TV show, or make sure the stressor doesn’t come in a 50 mile radius of the dinner conversation.
Now, imagine if you crossed a “hit-the-fan” (HTF) with a “manager.” The HTF would lay it all out there. “Where have you been? I feel neglected. I care about you and I just don’t know what is going on.” Even if HTF says it calmly (its important to not assume that the HTF is always dramatic or yelling. They just want all of it out there at once) Manager is going to freak out. They feel invaved, bombarded, and now they are ticked. The stress is rising and they are thinking quickly of ways to make it “bite size.”
But the problem is HTF keeps giving a Big Mac version of what is going on. And now they are starting to feel betrayed, because they are being authentic and Manager appears to be minimizing the stress. Is this not important to Manager? Why can they not just show up and be in this relationship?
Now, as e.j. said, we do not need our replica. If you are a HTF you might not need a HTF (
well, maybe you do). But I confident you sure do need someone with very similar stress styles. You will be able to track with each and recover from the stress much easier. Tension is already stressful enough...you want someone who can at least hack riding the waves like you do.
Believe it or not, there are a few more points to make. But don’t worry, like my Chocolate Chunk Peanut Butter Swirl Fudgy Cookies, we are almost done!
So, back to you e.j.
It was a very poetic moment in time, where the storm ceased brewing. As the clouds broke, instead of the hopeful sun rays, the violet sky revealed that the sun was already setting. Even though we did not see it make its way down the western skyline it was near gone.
We were left with a blacken tinted sky, as if the world’s eyes were blood shoot from a turbulent day.
Since entering college, I picked up (or attempted to pick up) “normal reading” which includes reading one book over a period of weeks. Typically, I am a “binge reader” which includes literally consuming a book by reading every waking hour of the day, even through meals. I get so hooked into books that I am known thinking in the accent of the main character. My mom is known for the same habit, so I attributing this behavior to genetic literary addiction.
In my personal challenge to read as normal folk, I have picked up “Seven Spiritual Gifts of Waiting” by Holly W. Whitcomb. The title of the book caught my eye as I browsed through a bookshelf in our chilly guest room. Though two weeks ago I would have labeled it ‘frantically searching,’ I will now idenitfy this season of my life with the word ‘waiting .’
Waiting has felt tremendously painful at times. It often feels as a dull ache, not so painful that you are paralyzed, but not soft enough that you are ever aware of its presence. I want it to go away soon, because the essence of true waiting does not measurable end. It could stop waiting this moment or maybe this is for years to come.
I have loved how Whitcomb unveils the often well-hidden gifts of waiting. It is such an abstract way to think about waiting. I even had to check the cover again, because when I first picked the book I thought it was “Seven Spiritual Disciplines of Waiting.”
So far I learned about the patience, loss of control, and living in the present. Today was…compassion.
I expected Whitcome to explain how I will be gifted with more compassion for others through the season of waiting. I assumed she would speak of reliability and empathy. But instead, the chapter was about how waiting lets us receive the gift of compassion from others. The headlines of chapter includes:
Compassion reminds us that we are not alone.
Compassion teaches us to receive.
Compassion allows us to be seen for who we really are.
Compassion helps us gather strength from other.
Compassion offers hope.
Gosh, I read this chapter in my favorite coffee shop and I was near tears. Because today was one of those hard days and I felt the weight of waiting and pressure of the future unfolding. Holding my cup of decaf coffee, I began to count. I counted how many people today demonstrated direct compassion towards me.
I counted ten people.
Mind you, I do not have a job. I did not leave the house. Ranging from a simple text to a dear friend who spent a total of 65 minutes comforting and guiding me on the phone, I am drenched in compassion. Though some today were strangers, many are compassionate warriors who have battled for hope and truth in these last nine months of my life. They lasted longer than mere kindness would take them. They gifted wisdom and time beyond what would be considered “equal share” in the relationship. They are daily remind me of heavenly compassion, how Abba despite my weakness and confusion is still ever-present and ever-loving.
I still do not have an answer. I am wondering how I am going to figure this all out. But part of me cares a little bit less about when I will get there, because I am simply awestruck by the compassionate masterpiece Abba is painting all around me.
So, thank you Whitecomb. But even more than that…