Too Uncomfortable - Lutheran Counseling Network

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Too Uncomfortable - Lutheran Counseling Network

    too (tōō) adv.

Faith and Everyday Life January 2010


    “Too” adv. 1. in addition, 2. more than enough, 3. to a regrettable extent 4. extremely; as an emphatic. Adj .modifying much or many.

    It doesn’t seem like much of a word, but it will provide a key this year to exploring the heights of God’s grace and the depths of our human struggle to live with each other.

    Let’s try it out with definition 4, “extremely.” “That was too funny!” It makes no sense literally, but if we understand the idiom we discover that someone finds something very humorous. As a matter of fact, it

    was so funny there may not have been words to describe it.

    We are eavesdropping on a private moment between two people and there is a positive relationship implied here. The “too” carries a sense of intimacy and sharing.

    How about “God is too gracious and forgiving!” Following the idiom, we are not criticizing God’s generosity. We are commenting on the impact of God’s love on the recipient. It is the “extremely” meaning we find here too. In this positive relationship, God’s very essence has flowed through to someone and they are expressing awe, or maybe even gratitude.

    Try it out for yourself. Use the “too” word once a day with definition 4 (until family and friends get tired

    of it). See how this little word might expand your experience of what is large in God’s universe and of what might be enlarged between you and the people around you.

     Lutheran Counseling Network

Faith and Everyday Life February 2010

    Too Uncomfortable

Let’s try it again. Some things are just plain hard.

    Using our last meaning of “too,” we could say relationships are often very uncomfortable

    whether the relationship is with people or with God. We can push the discomfort away, block it out, try to ignore it, but eventually we have to face it. Relationships are too (very) uncomfortable.

    A favorite human way to deal with this discomfort is to get mad at the other person for making us so uncomfortable. Sometimes it even works! Sometimes, however, we are uncomfortable because they are just stepping on an old sore spot of ours and unless we clear up the sore spot,

    they will continue to rub it. Relationships are complicated and the difficulties can come from so many sources.

    It can be this way with God too. Sometimes, like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, we wish that God had better things to do than bring troubles into our lives. But, really, troubles come to us because we are alive and fallenness is embedded into our lives. So why shouldn’t the relationship with

    God be complicated too?

    Perhaps we could move to a cave and give relationships up, but that is a bit extreme and we’d

    still have to live with ourselves anyway.

    So rather than giving up on relationships, maybe we can just remember that they are “too

    uncomfortableand embrace them anyway.

     Lutheran Counseling Network

Faith and Everyday Life March 2010

    Too Uncomfortable

    There is a wonderful line from a Kris Kristofferson song, “I’m going to be leaving no more quicker than I can, because I’ve enjoyed about as much of this as I can stand.” Enough is too much.

    We all have our limits and breaking points and we have to know what they are. Saying, “I should” be able to take, stand, endure this (whatever) is actually a little crazy. It

    assumes that I am some kind of failure if I can’t. Where did we get that conclusion from anyway?

    People talk like this even if being tough is killing them; and sometimes it does.

    This is tricky when it comes to evaluating our closest relationships. What is “too” uncomfortable?

    When do we say, “I just can’t do this anymore!” I can’t stay in relationship with you.” We all

    need to test our own hearts and look deep into our souls. God does not want alienation between

    people. But alienation is a consequence of the Fall.

    God recognizes our frailty and does not expect super-human strength from us. Please remember, it is a gracious God we turn to for love and tenderness as we examine all of our decisions.

     Lutheran Counseling Network

Faith and Everyday Life April 2010

    Too Uncomfortable

     The mirror

    How much “should” the other one be able to stand? It is possible to brow-beat someone else

    into the ground, you know.

    Sometimes our pursuit of the other during a conflict is driven by our own anxiety. We believe that we have to get something settled now. Sometimes it takes the form of “You can’t leave!”

    The terror of a possible permanent rift is so compelling we go into survival mode and demand to finish the argument.

    As hard as it is, when someone cries “uncle”, it’s best to quit pushing. Pursuit beyond that point may only push the relationship into disaster sometimes leading to domestic violence where pushing and shoving at the door leads to injury or worse. At this point, tempers may be too close to boiling and self control for both may be already gone.

    Research into these kinds of situations tells us that both people need time to de-stress. Our physiology is so wound up that we can’t really think clearly. Being able to soothe ourselves and

    distract our minds for long enough to allow thinking to resume and then reengaging the topic is

    really the only way through this scenario.

    God nowhere promises to make these situations come out well every time. God does promise that comfort is available for the terrified and reminds us that love and connection is always God’s will.

    If you are upset to the point of demanding that the argument must be settled now, risk that God’s

    presence and desire for healing are always present and then breathe and try again later.

     Lutheran Counseling Network

Faith and Everyday Life May 2010

     Too Uncomfortable

     The letting go

    Sometimes those old hurts just aren’t worth hanging onto. There is nothing left to gain, or to

    protect or to punish. The time for holding out for resolution is clearly long past. The other isn’t going to give you the apology you want. Maybe they are even dead!

    Not speaking to “offenders” for years doesn’t happen to every family but you probably know one

    where that is how folks operate. It usually hurts everyone but when everybody is “right” and everybody is righteous about it, backing down doesn’t look like an option.

    Sometimes you can get to a point where carrying the grudge becomes more uncomfortable for everyone involved than setting it down. If this is the tenth Christmas you have boycotted because Aunt Mable is going to be there, maybe it is time to let it go. Maybe you are making it just “too

    uncomfortable” for everyone.

    It is probably too uncomfortable for God to have humans that act this way, but God appears to be hanging in with us anyway. Perhaps God will even tolerate us a bit longer. But you know, maybe it’s too uncomfortable for everyone involved, even God, to put God and other people through


    Maybe it’s time to just let it go.

     Lutheran Counseling Network

Faith and Everyday Life June 2010

    Too Much Damage

    In the movie “Who Killed Roger Rabbit” we learn that you can’t kill a Tune. No matter how many times Wiley Coyote gets a death blow rock on his head; he springs back to life in the next frame.

    Unfortunately, relationships are not Tunes. All damage is not reversible. Some is permanent. Sometimes couples come to a counselor’s office and one person desperately asks, “Can my

    marriage be saved?” They tell tales of long years of damage or neglect and now a crisis has arisen and the need for resolution seems urgent. Sometimes adult children come to therapy trying to find a way to keep their hearts connected to a parent who continually abuses and ridicules. Sometimes it is not possible.

    Friendships can be strained beyond repair too, as can co-worker relationships. We humans are resilient, but not unbreakable. Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, but he did not raise all of his contemporaries from the dead. Jesus wept for his dead friend and probably wept for many who did not return to life.

    God may weep for the relationships we kill but may not miraculously restore them. Do be careful with these precious gifts God has given you. Be aware that you can do “too much damage and the gift might be lost forever.

    Lutheran Counseling Network

Faith and Everyday Life July 2010

    Too Deep to Heal

    There is something called an “attachment wound” that creates such pain and subsequent distrust that the relationship is just not the same afterward. It happens at a time when one person relied on the other for understanding and comfort and it was not only not there, but hurt and pain was present instead. Often these wounds can be healed, but the work and commitment to healing is challenging indeed.

    This is what underlies those interactions in which an incident from 20 years ago keeps coming up in fights or even out of the blue. The betrayal seemed so profound that it can’t be forgotten. “I’m sorry doesn’t begin to touch this hurt, so it won’t go away.

    What we know is that two things need to happen to get past this. One is that the “hurt one” must

    have the depth of their pain heard, recognized and thoroughly validated by the other. But second, the other one must be able to tell what was going on for them at the time and likewise be heard and validated.

    There are some purely malicious actions, but they are quite rare. These attachment wounds are usually done out of the pain and distress of someone who is not coping well with whatever the situation is. They are often done not intentionally to wound, but rather to self-protect. Most of the time these wounds are not really too deep to heal, but they sure seem that way. If you have carried one of these in a significant relationship, maybe it’s time to get some professional

    help resolving it.

    If our wounding to death of God’s son is not too deep to heal, perhaps our wounds of each other

    are not either.

     Lutheran Counseling Network

Faith and Everyday Life August 2010

    I Want to Come Too !

Let’s look at the “in addition” definition.

    The sentence is deceptively ordinary, but within it lays the essence of human connection. The sentence is about attachment, bonding and inclusion. It is about the need we all have to be

    wanted, needed loved and cared about. It is about the universal need to be important enough to someone else to have them want you along.

    This is about being chosen on the playground, called by a friend to do something together, having a buddy to go to the game or a friend to go shopping with. This is the voice of the little kid calling to the parent or older sibling as they are about to walk out the door. It doesn’t

    somehow go away with “maturity,” as if we grew out of being dependent on others for love and attention.

    When we sing, “When the Saints Go Marching In” we sound the same note. “I want to be in that

    number,” included in that great cloud of witnesses. I want God to love me and to want me to be with all the host of heaven. The resurrection is God’s great big, “Hey, do you want to come along? You’re invited you know!”

    There is no family, no community, no marriage, no church without this very fundamental need. Once we grow up, it can get harder to utter that innocent and vulnerable request, but we really must if we are to stay connected to those we want to love us. We have to count ourselves in. After all, we were created that way.

     Lutheran Counseling Network

Faith and Everyday Life September 2010

    That Was Too Much

    This is the “regrettable extent” definition. “That was more than I needed, or wanted, or could use or.. well, fill in the blank.

    Sometimes I do it to myself. “I just realized I hadn’t been tracking how many cookies I have been eating but my stomach’s delayed reaction just let me know I should have stopped several cookies ago.” Or, “I think I misjudged how much fill dirt I needed. Fifty yards was just too much. How hard it can be to distinguish just right from too much.”

    Sometimes it is us who gives the “too much.”

    We often don’t know how much of anything another needs from us, especially when it comes to emotional support, love, caring. It’s kind of a trial and error process. They have to have a way to

    say to us, “That is too much” without pushing us away or us getting our feelings hurt.

    It may not be that we tried to do something wrong when we tried to give what we did. But maybe we gave too much because that was how much we would have needed, not how much they did.

    That kind of giving always feels bad to the recipient.

    So if someone says to us, “That is just too much.” Try to consider the possibility that it is, examine your motives and try again.

    God’s grace covers missteps, honest!

    We hope that is not “too much” for you to consider.

     Lutheran Counseling Network

Faith and Everyday Life October 2010

    God’s Too

Lots of ways to read this one. Here, the “too” is a noun. It is a something God gives that is “in

    addition” to what you have already. It is a gift.

    Its like, “Have another … “(you fill in the blank). It is about abundance. You think you are full? Well I have a surprise for you! There is more so take this one too!

    God can do this endlessly, but humans are a bit more limited. When new relationships start out, they are filled with toos. You can’t wait to give another one and you can’t wait to see what the next one will be. They happen naturally.

    But over time, the spontaneous giving of toos doesn’t flow so naturally and sometimes each

    person gets a little less. Sometimes one person keeps giving and begins to protest that the other is being stingy. This can start a cycle of resentment, at which point the person who gets labeled as stingy gives even fewer toos. You can see where this is going, can’t you?

    Breaking the cycle can be tricky. Who will go first, the person demanding or the person withholding?

    What might it be like to realize that there is such an abundance of, well, whatever you need, that you no longer felt desperate? What if you really believed that God says, “Here, have what you

    need, and then have another one too, and another and another and one for good measure?

    If we were full of toos, it might it be easier to stop and say, “This isn’t working. Could we just

    exchange a too and start over?

     Lutheran Counseling Network

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