Posted tagged ‘relationships’

With This Ring

July 25, 2014

by Steven J Callis

It was long thought that there is a vein in the human body running from the ring finger of the left hand to the heart. The advancement of science eventually proved that to be a false notion, but the sentiment is beautiful as to the reason for wearing the wedding band on the fourth finger of the left hand.

Another explanation of the tradition is that long ago in a religious wedding ceremony, the priest would bless the marriage by touching the ring to the thumb and saying, “In the name of the Father.” He would then touch the ring to the forefinger and say, “and of the Son,” followed by touching the ring to the middle finger and saying, “and of the Holy Ghost.” Finally, the ring would be placed on the fourth finger as the priest declared, “Amen.”

Yet another explanation is that the fourth finger is the most protected of all the fingers, and the majority of people tend to use their right hand more than the left hand. Hence, the fourth finger on the left hand would be the most protected of all. This idea is not nearly as romantic or symbolic as the others, but many people believe it to be the most plausible theory.

If choosing to accept the latter of these derivations, we could actually find a bit of symbolism in it, too. Marriage is a bond and foundation of a home and family. The home being one’s refuge from the wiles and crises and stresses of the everyday world, marriage should, indeed, be protected. While there are many external causes for failing marriages and divorce, the problems nearly always begin within the marriage itself.

After you have overdone it at the local food buffet, the last thing on your mind is stopping at DQ for a Blizzard or sundae; food is not appetizing when your tummy is completely satisfied. Similarly, when a relationship is solid, satisfying, and need-meeting, the external distractions and temptations lose their appeal and power. For this reason, husbands and wives must guard their treasure called marriage.

As the relationship matures, changes are inevitable. We change as individuals, we change as events and circumstances impact our lives, we change as our physical health diminishes, and as we face the challenges of parenthood, career, faith, aging, and the empty nest. Refusing to acknowledge and deal with those changes can derail a relationship. The marriage must allow room for the relationship to grow as it matures.

So take a moment and consider that band on your left hand ring finger. Let it remind you of the necessity to deliberately protect what you have vowed to keep forever. Your marriage can be the very foundation of your home as a refuge.


Removing the Mask

November 1, 2013

Removing the Mask

By Steven J. Callis


               However one might explain it, they all just showed up.  A Power Ranger, a princess, a lion, a couple of bumble bees, a baby pumpkin, a football player, a gypsy, a politician, Batman, a cheerleader, Little Red Riding Hood – – there were so many, I could not possibly recall all of them.

               One thing they all had in common is that they had their hands out, expecting something from me.  Now, looking at that list, we might readily expect that attitude from some of those characters, but some of them looked too sweet and too cute to be so demanding.  Actually, those are the ones who did not need to ask.  They were so adorable, how could anyone not put a treat in their bags?

               It is fun to dress up, to be someone other than who we really are.  It can be refreshing to step out of character for a couple of hours and be someone else.  After all, how boring would this special treat night be if everyone dressed in their normal daily attire?

               Then, there is the morning after.  We are greeted with a double whammy: enduring our candy hangover, and then assuming again our true identities.  Well, that is what most people expect of us, anyway.  The mask comes off, the costume is hung in the closet, and it is back to the daily routine.

               There is a word that does not necessarily apply to our annual trick or treat event, but it does have to do with wearing a mask.  Our English word, “hypocrite,” is derived from the Greek word meaning “to act on stage; to play a part, or to pretend.” History tells us that actors would wear a mask on stage, and often the mouth of the mask would include a kind of megaphone shape to assist the player in projecting the voice throughout the auditorium.

               Today hypocrisy has to do with actions that do not support a personal belief system.  Whether it is a matter of insecurity, the desire for acceptance, or a number of other reasons, the result most likely includes the inability to experience genuine, interpersonal relationships with other persons; a sad and lonely way to live.  The logical progression will develop a mutual lack of trust between the mask-wearer and his/her counterparts.

               If you are one who may struggle to any degree with the feeling of low self-worth, or in thinking that no one else could possibly believe in you and accept you for who you really are, I encourage you give others the benefit of doubt.  Most people are not nearly as demanding as we believe them to be.  Knowing that you can be trusted, that your motives are pure, and that you are true to yourself goes a long way in developing friendships.

               And because I believe the Bible to be the Word of God, I take comfort and encouragement from Psalm 139, as the Psalmist perceives humanity from the perspective of the Creator.  I must wonder if these words of David are what inspired the familiar adage, “I know I’m somebody, ‘cause God don’t make no junk!” 

After You Say, “I Do”

August 1, 2013

After you Say I Do

By Steven J. Callis


Before you say, “I do,” much attention is given to even the smallest details of the relationship between a man and woman.  Considerable thought is given to making each date special: what to wear, where to go, and what to do.  Each is careful to treat the other with respect, consideration, and attentiveness, in hopes of leading to a deeper, more significant experience.

As the relationship progresses to the “I will” stage, primary attention shifts to marriage, and especially to the wedding ceremony.  Significant time, money, and energy go into planning all the details to make this event the perfect day.  While there are glitches in most every wedding ceremony, those uninvolved in the planning do not notice those imperfections – except the one when the ring bearer decides to army-crawl on his belly down the aisle, and even that made the occasion quite special.

Oh, if only a husband and wife could be so determined and focused after they say I do as they are in the months or years that lead to that moment in the ceremony.  However, we tend to grow comfortable with each other, and the demands of career and household chores and finances and other adult responsibilities – and eventually the time and energy devoted to children – all tend to distract us from the relationship itself, which was once the main focus.

It almost seems backwards, does it not?  It is as though we change our focus from what we can be for the other person to what we want the other person to be for us.  What happens to those earlier desires to demonstrate respect, consideration, and attentiveness – to impress the one who attracts us?  How could we let those desires slip away?  After all, who deserves that consideration more than the one who chose to say, “I do, till death us do part?”

The sincere desire to be there for the other person goes a long way in overcoming the obstacles and passages of a marriage relationship.  Willard Harley’s book, His Needs, Her Needs, reminds the husband and wife that mutual focus on the needs of the spouse moves both persons toward completeness; God’s design for marriage.  Oh, that a husband and wife could be so determined and focused after they say I do by demonstrating respect, consideration, and attentiveness towards each other in the quest of their happily ever after.

Bridge Building

May 19, 2013

Are You Ready to Build a Bridge?
Steven J. Callis

The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, sometimes called simply the Causeway, is composed of two parallel bridges crossing Lake Pontchartrain in southern Louisiana. The original Causeway was a two-lane span, measuring nearly 24 miles in length. It opened in 1956 at a cost of $30.7 million. A parallel two-lane span opened on May 10, 1969, at a cost of $26 million. It remains the longest continuous bridge over water in the world, according to Guinness Book of World Records.
The purpose of the bridge was not to establish a world record or achieve any level of claim to fame. What the Causeway did accomplish was a shorter route to the New Orleans area for commuters, saving nearly one hour of travel time, compared to the previous route around the body of water.
In 2006 there were an estimated 600,000 roadway bridges in the United States open to the public. This statistic does not take into account other types of bridges, such as railways and walkways.
There is another type of bridge whose origin can be traced back as far at the 5th century B.C. in ancient Greece. We know it today as a handshake. A bridge is defined as a connecting, transitional, or intermediate route between two adjacent places, or something that spans a chasm. Have you ever noticed how the arms of two individuals span the chasm between them when they shake hands?
Last weekend two well-known professional golfers were paired together in the third round of The Players Championship. Having witnessed some tension between the two golfers over recent years, the media really played the hype on this pairing.  As it turned out, there was an incident early in their round that added to the tension of the circumstance, eventually resulting in mutual negative comments to the media later in the day. But it could have been much worse.
Something took place at the close of their round of golf which, in most instances, would seem commonplace in a professional golf tournament. Under these circumstances, however, it was a gentlemanly gesture on the part of each golfer: they built a bridge.
Despite their personal thoughts and feelings towards one another, on the 18th green they removed their hats and shook hands. There were no smiles; they may not even have made eye contact. They did, however, hold true to the tradition of professional golfers, which certainly required some amount of humility.
In a number of other sports, duking it out may have been a logical outcome at the end of the match – or even on the second fairway where the incident took place! Even there on the 18th green, they could have ignored tradition and, thereby, added fuel to the fire. (I have to wonder if that is what the media was hoping would happen!) But they chose to build a bridge. Certainly there is a chasm that exists between the two personalities, but a handshake spanned that chasm for a couple of seconds, somewhat easing the tension, and seemingly wowing the commentators.
Is there is a bridge that you need to build with another individual with whom some slight conflict has developed? Ignoring it will not make it disappear, and could even cause it to grow worse. You can choose to extend the right hand of friendship and span that chasm. The gesture may not resolve the conflict, but it could be the first step to easing tension and restoring communication. I hope you will choose to build a bridge.

Let Me Count the Ways

February 9, 2012

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

I read recently that more than one half of cards sold for Valentines Day are purchased within 48 hours of February 14, and that approximately one billion greeting cards are exchanged on this special holiday.  According to the Nielson ratings, Americans purchase 58 million pounds of Valentine chocolate at a cost of $345 million, including 35 million heart-shaped boxes of those sweet treats!  In addition to these gestures of love, florists boast the sale of 189 million stems of red roses during the Valentine holiday, and jewelry sales for this occasion rank second only to Christmas among all the holidays and seasons of the year.

Some “bloggers” claim that a man’s greatest fear is buying a Valentines gift that upsets or disappoints that special lady in his life.  I comically picture a big, strong, handsome guy anxiously pacing back and forth in the gift shop trying to decide how to avoid the wrath of an insensitive Valentine’s present.  This poor man has been convinced that Valentine’s Day is not about the love, but about the gift.

In our busy to and fro world, there are “built-in” days throughout the year that remind us of the importance to demonstrate our love and appreciation for special persons in our lives.  While I do make a daily effort to demonstrate and verbalize my love for my wife, I am thankful for a day like Valentines that provides the opportunity for me to say, “I love you,” in a special way.  Let’s remember on this Valentine’s Day that it really is about the love, more than it is about the gift.  One writer described it like this:

Love is patient and kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  Love does not demand its own way.  Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record when it has been wronged.  It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.  Love will last forever. (The Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 13, NLT)


One cannot place a price on that, but putting that kind of love into action surpasses any amount of chocolates, jewelry, and cleverly-worded greeting cards.  Love is not primarily a feeling; it is a decision that lasts forever.

If It’s Too Good…

January 18, 2012

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

TV ads usually do not catch my attention, but this one did: “Lose weight without exercise and eat all you want.”  Now that is my kind of weight-loss plan!  You may be among the 90% of Americans whose New Year’s resolution is health-related.  The national survey conducted by MorningStar Farms reported that more than two-thirds of New Year’s resolutions specifically center on weight loss.  The findings also revealed that 88% of those surveyed admitted failing in their quest, most of those within the first 3 months.

This TV ad targeted such persons!  Conducting a brief internet search, I found several websites with the same claim: Lose weight without exercise and eat all you want.  One site reported that, “Overweight, sedentary people who spent a week at an elevation of 8,700 feet lost weight while eating as much as they wanted and doing no exercise. A month after they came back down, they had kept two-thirds of those pounds off.” 

Another ad for losing weight without exercise touted a special belt to be worn around the waist while sitting still.  The belt has multiple settings and is designed to pulsate against the tummy for 15-30 minutes each session.  In other words, it is doing the workout for you!

Well, like they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!  Most experts will tell you that the most effective and permanent way to lose weight is proper diet and proper exercise.  Many people suffer because upon reaching their desired weight loss, they stop dieting and return to life as usual.  Proper weight maintenance for most people, however, is a continual process – a daily, or at least weekly monitoring of food consumption: what, when, and how much.  In other words, the process never ends!  It must be a lifestyle of eating right foods and following a proper exercise routine.

The same can be said of most things in life.  Family counselors contend that marriage requires work, effort.  Why?  Because the relationship grows and changes with the passages of life and surrounding circumstances.  There is a continual monitoring and adjusting in a relationship.  This also is true about your occupation, your friendships – even your church.  In terms of life in this world, most of our time is spent on the journey rather than at the destination.  There is no easy answer, no quick fix.  We must determine to develop good habits and right priorities, an ongoing process of daily living.  At the heart of it all, we must allow those things that matter most, those things of highest value to us, to serve as our compass and purpose for living.  As for me and my household, we will serve the living God.