Categories
Devotions

Wait, What did You Mean by That? The Second Nature of Second Guessing

“Just to clarify…” If I had a dollar for every email I sent with those words, I don’t think I’d have to send them anymore. I’d invest those dollars and retire. I am frequently second guessing my understanding of things. Can you relate?

I have noticed that people seem more distracted and less prepared lately, me included. Those qualities do not make for clearer communication. I frequently want to interject “Wait, what did you mean by that?”

And sometimes, even with our best efforts and preparation, our words land with meanings which are different than we intended. It can be a good thing when someone second guesses their first inclination about what we meant. Written words are especially prone to misinterpretation.

The texting world is a great example. I think emojis are intended to help me understand the spirit with which a message is sent, but still I second guess. Apparently, each emoji has an assigned emotion, but I don’t know what they are. I have to interpret the face and let’s be real, a wink could mean a lot of different things!

I saw something like this the other day. I have recreated it as I remember it.

Font matters: Wait, What did You Mean by That?  The Second Nature of Second Guessing...
Words alone aren’t always enough to convey a message!

When I saw the graphic, I read the two notes to myself in very different voices. It was second nature to me to assume one was a promise and the other a threat. Contemplating this brought to mind two other instances I’ve encountered lately where I second guessed the meaning of a message and its implication.

The first was when someone told me that I seem very content. I smiled and thanked them, because it made me feel good. But then I second guessed their motives. Had that been a compliment or an accusation? What did they mean by that? I am happy with what I have and who I am. But did they mean it to say that I should driving and striving for improvement? I’m still not sure.

The other thing was something Jesus said. And it wasn’t so much a matter of not understanding what He meant. His words are living and active (Hebrews 4:12), meaning they hit differently, depending on the condition of my heart. This is what He said:

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Matthew 6:6

If I read these words during my quiet time, with my Bible open and my heart pure, they are sweet, aren’t they? They reassure me that, even when nobody else can see me doing the right thing, God sees. It makes me feel like I don’t need anybody else’s recognition or praise.

But yikes! The words here say that God sees what I do in secret. What if I’m doing something sneaky and naughty? This verse takes on a whole different meaning under those circumstances, doesn’t it? Suddenly, it is anything but reassuring. I feel like a deer in the headlights, second guessing what I think I’m getting away with.

To be honest, I don’t think we can ever get away from misunderstandings entirely. Maybe we all do well to cultivate a second nature of second guessing. But I want to focus mine to be more productive.

Instead of fussing with insecurity and obsessing over what was meant by the little comments people make, I want to use my second guess to give people the benefit of the doubt.

Sometimes, believing the best of someone will literally mean I need to wait and find out what they meant. Other times, it will just be a decision I make in my heart to believe the best of them. After all, God knows the truth and He rewards what nobody else sees. And I never have to second guess His word!

Are you a second guesser? Do words return to your mind with an uncertainty as to what they mean? Or maybe you are characterized by confidence and rarely think twice about things. I guess we all have a second nature inclined one way or the other. What is yours?

Categories
Reflections

Buy Buttons: How Understanding Them Will Make and Save You Money!

Have you ever left the mall with spontaneous purchases? Do you wonder why you bought those items? Or maybe the opposite is true for you. Do you work in sales and struggle to meet your quotas? These things may seem out of your control, but don’t get down on yourself just yet!

Please keep reading, my friend. Understanding buy buttons will make and save you money! This information can give you an edge over other shoppers and retailers this holiday season and forever!

I recently had a conversation with Elizabeth Wickham on her bleuwater blog post about the depth of character, both fictional and real life, that is created when wants and needs are defined and understood. She writes about thought-provoking subjects. If you don’t already follow her, you really need to check out her site! This post about buy buttons was prompted by the discussion she and I had in relation to her article.

Understanding buy buttons will make and save you money

What are buy buttons?

I am using the term “buy buttons” for this post. The phrase for the idea might be coined by me, but the concept is certainly not. I learned these principles in a sales class I took decades ago. It has been so long that I don’t remember the exact terminology used, but I have banked (pun intended) on this information for many years and utilized it repeatedly to both make and save me money.

Buttons to press: Understanding Buy Buttons Will Make or Save You Money!
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
When your buy buttons are pressed, you are more likely to spend money.

Buy buttons are the triggers which prompt you to open your wallet. They are wired to the needs and wants you have, both physical and emotional. Let’s back up and differentiate between needs and wants.

Needs

Needs are things you must have to survive. These are basic but crucial. Examples of needs would be air, water, food, shelter, and a means by which to obtain them. New shoes can be a legitimate need, if you must wear them to work and your old ones have fallen apart.

Wants

Most of what people call needs are actually wants. Anything over and above what is needed to survive is a want. There is not necessarily anything wrong with desiring more, nicer, and newer things, but be honest about what they are. Needs and wants are too often confused. You might think you need a new pair of shoes to match a new belt, but that is a want if you have other shoes to wear.

Where are your buy buttons?

Your buy buttons lie in the areas where you are most likely to make spontaneous decisions with your money. They are where your wants feel most like needs. Below are 5 pressure points upon which buy buttons may be found. The order of their importance varies from person to person. You may favor one or a combination of them. As you read, try to identify where yours might be.

A button labled "Buy": Understanding Buy Buttons Will Make or Save You Money!
Know what presses your buttons!

Urgency

The buy button of urgency has a time sensitive component. Do phrases like ‘last-chance’, ‘limited-time-only’, and ‘1-left-in-stock’ quicken your pulse? When you decide to sleep on a purchase decision, do you lie awake all night wondering if you missed out? If so, you have a buy button which is triggered by the perception of urgency. And you’ll want to hurry because, today only, I’m waiving the membership fee on the Back Porch! (Just kidding, it is free to follow this blog, so please subscribe!)

Bargain

If you simply cannot pass up a bargain, then you probably favor this buy button. A great deal is prey of the bargain hunt. Do you get a rush from haggling at a garage sale or using double coupons? Are you giddy about clearance racks and bargain basements? Does it bring you joy to find out you paid less for something than your neighbor did? Then you have a bargain buy button.

Security

Do you pursue things that make you feel safe? You know you tend toward a buy button related to security, if you value things like solid construction, high safety ratings, and gadgets for emergency preparation. Your fences are sturdy and you have the best home alarm system you can [almost] afford. If you are consistently willing to go over budget on purchases to include the newest proven safety features, you have a buy button related to security.

Prestige

You might suspect this buy button is a main one for you if you like to have the best. Does it make you happy when people admire the things you flaunt? Are you motivated to purchase items more for the prestige of ownership than because you are excited to use them? Are you drawn to things that are advertised as ‘rare finds’ or ‘one-of-a-kind’? If terms like ‘unique’, ‘custom’, and ‘elite’ catch your attention, the buy button of prestige is one of yours.

Sentimentality

Are you sentimental? Do you hold on to the past and enjoy refurbishing old things? Will you invest in quality workmanship which should stand the test of time? An activated sentimentality buy button will compel you to pull out your money to remember the good ole days or to create something unforgettable for the future. If antiques and nostalgia are precious to you, and you can’t put a price on making memories which will last, you have a sentimentality buy button.

Dollar bills arranged in the shape of a brain: Understanding Buy Buttons Will Make or Save You Money!
Photo by Morgan Housel on Unsplash
Our buy buttons are triggered by the things we value

Knowing about buy buttons can make you money

When you sell, you can rely on buy buttons. Whether you are trying to resell a single item you have, or you own an entire store, knowing about buy buttons can make you money. Once you identify a customer’s buy button, you can tailor your pitch to steer them toward a product that will trigger it. You make the sale and they feel good about their purchase. It is a win-win!

Let’s take a gym membership for example. If you work the sales desk and a potential customer mentions living in the gated community across the street, you should find out more about that. Do they live there for prestige? For security? Those would be the most likely assumptions. But don’t assume!

I live in a gated community. And believe it or not, my input on that decision was driven by bargain. The house was the most affordable in the area which met the needs of my family. If you were trying to sell me a gym membership according to the prestigious club or the secure facilities, you would not likely get my money. I don’t quicken toward either of those buy buttons. But, if you could convince me that you have the best prices in town, you might hook me. And that brings me to my last point.

Knowing your buy buttons can save you money

I love a good bargain. I have a daughter who is hopelessly sentimental. I have a son who enjoys prestige and a husband who wants his family to be secure. We know this about ourselves, and it has saved us money!

When you know your buy buttons, you will realize when a salesperson is pressing them. Also, you will understand your compulsions and be able to anticipate and manage them. Exercising power over your buy buttons will save you money.

I have developed self-talk in relation to my primary buy button. When I pass bargain counters and clearance racks, I remind myself that if I didn’t need those items at full price, I don’t need them at their sale price either. If I purchase an unwanted item worth $100 at a sale price of $5, I didn’t save $95, I wasted $5. Knowing my buy button has saved me an inestimable amount of money!

What are your buy buttons?

Have you learned anything about yourself? What triggers your buy buttons? Do you understand some of the curious purchases you’ve made? Have you thought of new angles for selling products to others? How might an understanding of buy buttons make and save you money?

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.”

Proverbs 21:5
Categories
Reflections

The What, Why, and Wonder of Every Day Facades: Part 3

Happy Friday! I’m thrilled that you are here! Have you read parts 1 and 2 in this series about everyday facades? We defined the term, talked about what those false fronts might look like and considered some reasons why we use them. Feel free to click below if you need a refresher.

Today is the glorious and victorious conclusion of this series. Part 3 is about the Wonder of everyday facades. This is where we find freedom for ourselves and others.

The what, why and Wonder of everyday facades: Part 3 – The Wonder

Everyday facades are not material. When I use this term, I am not referring to an actual mask or costume. These facades are false fronts which we use to create illusions about who we are.

Façade (noun)a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation

merriam-webster.com

The Wonder of everyday facades

This Wonder, with a capital W, is God, Himself. He reaches right through our facades to connect with us. Have you experienced that? If not, let your guard down and be real with Him. He can handle it. He sees you and knows you and you can’t fool Him, no matter how cleverly you try.

“I am looking for the one I can’t fool.”

― Kamand Kojouri

Four wonderful examples in the Bible where God saw through the everyday facades of people

Jonah

God told His prophet, Jonah, to go to Nineveh and give the people of that city a message. Jonah didn’t want to go, so he got on board a ship heading in the opposite direction. He put on a plain façade and tried to blend in. God knew exactly where he was and brought him to repentance, obedience, and restoration. If you’d like to read the story, you can find it here.

Hagar

Hagar was a mom who was treated poorly by her boss and fired. You can read all the sordid details here. Her reality was cringeworthy and she was trying to run away from it. God saw through her façade and met her right where she was.

“She (Hagar) gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: ‘You are the God who sees me,’ for she said, ‘I have now seen the One who sees me.’”

Genesis 16:13 (parenthesis mine)

The Samaritan Woman

Jesus struck up a conversation with the Samaritan woman. He asked her to go get her husband. She casually said she didn’t have one. She hid behind a façade of half-truth. Jesus saw straight through it and told her what He knew to be true about her – past, present and future. The story can be found here.

The Disciples

The disciples had seen Jesus crucified. They’d experienced His empty grave and His resurrected form. They’d been given the Holy Spirit and they’d witnessed many other miracles. But they went fishing, which was how they’d spent their time before they met Jesus. They went back to the comfortable façade of their old habits. Jesus knew where they were and He met them there. You can read about it here.


Mask unworn: The what, why and Wonder of everyday facades...
Photo by Ibolya Toldi
When we encounter the Wonder of who God is, we can leave our facades behind.

God loves us too much to leave us hiding behind our everyday facades. We might fool each other, but God sees us. He meets us where we are just like He did in the four examples above.

Each of those people were changed by the wonder of their encounters with God. He saw their need, removed their reason for hiding, and gave them purpose. They emerged from behind their facades to see and be seen.

Precious friend, God sees you behind whatever façade you raise. He wants to draw you out, restore and renew you. He will change you from hider to seeker, so you can help others too. God is the Wonder of our everyday facades.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Categories
Reflections

The What, Why, and Wonder of Every Day Facades: Part 2

Hey there! Happy Wednesday! I’m so happy you’re here! Did you read Monday’s post about everyday facades? We talked about what some of those look like and how we might see through them. Feel free to click below if you need a refresher.

Thank you so much for coming back for Part 2. Today, I hope you’ll converse with me about why we use everyday facades. I think this is a critical part of understanding ourselves and others.

The what, why and Wonder of everyday facades: Part 2 – The Why

Everyday facades are not material. When I use this term, I am not referring to an actual mask or costume. These facades are false fronts which we use to create illusions about who we are.

Facade (noun)a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation

merriam-webster.com

Why do we put up facades?

We all need companionship, connection, and love. We were made by our loving Creator by plan and with purpose. So why do we jeopardize it all with our facades? I can think of four quick reasons.

Fear of rejection

Fear of rejection is the reason for most of the facades we use. We are afraid that if others saw the real us, they’d be disinterested. We use facades to either attract their interest or provide a faux persona for them to reject. If they reject someone who is not the real us, it is easier to deflect the pain. But if we attract them to an alter ego, we live with the fear that eventually they will figure us out. Rejection seems inevitable.

“Having grown up so familiar with creating a pleasing facade, I now end up compelled to reveal things inside and say, ‘Okay, now you really see me. Do you still love me?’”

― Kathryn Harrison

Desire to be sensitive

This is a tricky one. Sometimes celebrating our blessings seems to be insensitive to others who have not received the same things. Pregnancy, promotions, happy marriages, etc. These things can cause us to put up a muted façade so as not to appear too celebratory in front of those who would like to have what we have. When we are not careful, we can come off as ungrateful or flippant, and that works against our desire to be sensitive.

Protection of privacy

To protect our privacy, or that of someone else, we resort to everyday facades. We use them to deflect attention and steer people away from the information we wish to hide. This goal can be a worthy one, but we need to proceed with caution. It is easy to cross a boundary into dishonesty.

Hesitancy to accept reality

Oh friend, sometimes our reality is just not what we wish it to be. When we are hesitant to accept the truth, our tendency might be to live as if things were different. There is a saying that advises to “fake it until you make it” but this is a dangerous way to live. If we are honest about what is, we are more likely to find a real path to improvement.

“I feel confidence in myself, but at the same time there’s these cracks in the façade and those little things underneath that are unstable.”

― Pete Wentz
Family wearing paper bag masks: the what, why and Wonder of everyday facades- part 2
Photo by Daisy Anderson

Can you think of more reasons why we might use facades instead of presenting our true selves? Do you think facades are effective around you? Do you tend to respond to people according to how they present themselves? Sometimes I think I do.

Even when I clearly see the façade, I might treat an acquaintance in accordance with it. I assume that I’m being respectful of their wishes. If they went to all the trouble to put up their façade, I don’t feel the need to call them out.

But as I get to know someone better, I don’t want to let them hide. I want to show them that I see them, and I appreciate them. I want them to feel confident that they are valuable just the way they are. I hope I am looking deeper than what they are presenting on the surface.

This is critical relationship stuff with which I’m wrestling in my own life. Is it relevant to you? Have you noticed facades in your circle of acquaintances and friends? If so, why do you think that is?


I sure hope you’ll return to the Back Porch on Friday to discuss one more facet of our everyday facades? What do you suppose could be the wonder revealed by them? Feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss the conversation. You are precious to me, dear friend.

Categories
Reflections

The What, Why, and Wonder of Everyday Facades: Part 1

Hello everybody! It’s November 1, and this is one of my favorite days of the year. Today, in the USA, we turn our hearts toward gratitude. And, as if we need a place to begin, candy is 50-75% off in most stores. (Hey, if you like peppermint and happen to see bite-sized York Patties on sale, grab a bag in preparation for an upcoming story and recipe post!)

In yesterday’s How to Have a Healthy Hope and a Happy Heart article, I said Halloween costumes remind me that what we see is not always what we get when it comes to the people around us. It is easy to look through an obvious disguise and realize the person inside is vastly different from who or what they are pretending to be. But the facades we hide behind every day are more complicated.

The what, why and Wonder of everyday facades: Part 1 – The What

Facade (noun)a way of behaving or appearing that gives other people a false idea of your true feelings or situation

merriam-webster.com

Everyday facades are not material. I’m not referring to an actual mask or costume. These facades are false fronts which we use to create illusions about who we are. Here are some examples.

Masquerade masks: The What, Why, and Wonder of Every Day Facades: Post 1
Photo by hitesh choudhary

What are some everyday facades?

Fancy facade

Do you know someone who goes to incredible lengths to present perfection? Sometimes (of course, not always!) someone who is obsessed with fancy clothes, or degrees, or some other impressive thing, can be hiding feelings of inadequacy. These people get abundantly noticed for their efforts, which often drives their resolve to continue.

“It’s easy to get by on a facade of fancy style, but sooner or later, people are going to see through it. I’m trying to be as honest as possible.”

Jim Carroll

Happy façade

I present this façade every day. I am in the habit of answering the simple question, “How are you?” with the deceptive answer “Great! How are you?” And I usually get “Good, thanks!” in return. None of it is completely genuine. But it is easier to paste on a giant happy smile and quip cheerfully than to answer with thoughtful truth. Feigning happiness does not bring joy. In fact, it often does the exact opposite because we fail to connect with others in a meaningful way.

Grotesque façade

This one is near to my heart. There are precious people in my life who rely on grotesque façades to hide deep, painful wounds. They use shock and repulsion to keep our eyes diverted so we don’t see their actual pain. They expect we would cringe in disgust at their real plight, so they create a different reason for us to turn away. And when we do, they stay alone in their misery.

Plain façade

A plain façade is effective for anonymity. If someone can blend in, they can hide in plain sight. When they are disregarded, they stay away from scrutiny, and nobody sees what they perceive to be their gaping flaws. They often wish someone would care enough to notice them, but they simply are not willing or able to put themselves out there in a way which makes it easy for people to pay attention.


Friends, so often you and I hide our real selves. Do any of the everyday facades above hit close to home? What others can you think of?

I know for certain that the God who made us does not make mistakes. When we hide ourselves and try to put a different face forward, aren’t we cheating the world out of the contribution God intended us to make? If we spend our efforts maintaining our everyday facades, aren’t we robbing ourselves? The greatest joy comes from fulfilling the purpose for which we were created.

Will you join me on Wednesday and Friday this week to discuss this topic further? Let’s consider why we hide behind everyday facades. And what do you suppose could be the wonder revealed by them? Feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss the conversation. See you then – have a great week!

Categories
Promotions Reflections

How An Eerie Scene Provoked Me to Run and Keep Running

The cinematography was foreboding. It was essentially black and white. A stark contrast of light and shadows made me shiver as if I were standing in the mud beside the lake’s eerie, frosted shore.

I had been washing dishes when the movie on the living room TV caught my eye and drew me in. A man and a woman were in an isolated location, living in a cabin which seemed sparsely equipped for the cold. He appeared comfortable there. She did not.

Was he keeping her against her will? I wasn’t sure. He made her get in the frigid water and swim. Was he trying to acclimate her? Was she training for something? I didn’t know.

I watched for maybe 10 minutes before I turned back to my chores. The last eerie scene I saw had the two characters out running in the fog. The man was fit and proficiently able, but the woman was struggling and falling behind. Her respiration was labored, and easily identifiable because the icy air made it visible. He advised her “Don’t try to breathe to keep up with your feet. Find your breath and then set your pace by it.”

That one scene has played again and again in my head. I am a distance walker. I put hundreds of miles on my shoes and wear through them in months. But I struggle to run.

I have the fantastic excuse that I am often holding hands with people I love and enjoying their pace. (See related post: How Hand in Hand with My Girl Plunged Me Heart to Heart with My God.) I jog maybe once every two weeks. It is definitely not often enough for it to get easier.

The woman in the movie was not a runner, yet she settled into a sustainable rhythm when she heeded the advice to set it by her breath. It was a movie, I know. But I was curious. Could I prolong a pace if I used my breath as a guide?

Running shoes: How an eerie scene provoked me to run and keep running
Photo by Mikel Parera on Unsplash

I have always allowed my feet to lead. If I start out too quickly, I will be out of breath in mere minutes. I have learned to slow my pace at the beginning and work into a more robust stride. But my focus has always been on my feet and after a mile or so, I tire of running and settle down to a walk.

If you read Truth 4 of the Halloween Series last Sunday, you may remember that I jogged to my old neighborhood in search of some décor. I expected to run for the usual few blocks and walk the restt of the way, but I wanted to put this new idea to the test.

I walked about half a block, focusing on my breath and hearing its cadence. Then I started to run, my feet keeping time with my breathing. And you know what? I jogged the entire 3 miles! That is the furthest I’ve been able to run nonstop in a very long time.

If you’re a runner, talk to me. Is this something you have known about forever? How did you learn and how did I miss it until I was last-week-years-old?

If you’re not a runner, but would like to be, give this a try! I guess I have to add the caveat that you should always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen and all of that. But if you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes for you!

I had it backwards. I was allowing my feet to lead when they should have been following. Are there other areas of my life where my cadence is being dictated by that which should be subordinate? I’m praying it all through with the Lord.

I’m thrilled to have a new strategy for exercise, but I suspect God has something deeper for me to learn. Once He gets it through my knuckle head, I’ll be sure to share it with you. Until then, what is God giving you to run with? Have you been impressed lately by any ideas, big or small?

“The drum to which we march reveals the conductor to whom we’re listening.”

Craig D. Lounsbrough