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Marriage and Family

Life's Thermostats

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04/01/2012 - Back in high school, we had some family friends who also worked with our church youth group. This family was originally from Wisconsin and absolutely loved water sports. They had a ski boat and would often take many of us out to the lake. The father of this family taught us to knee-board, water-ski and wake-board. I remembered being amazed at how talented he was on the water. He was skilled at all three sports and made them look completely effortless. Then he pulls out a ski I had, at that time, never seen before. It was similar to a water-ski, only slightly wider. One foot went in right behind the other. I think this was called a slalom ski but I remember him saying this was his favorite. With ease, he would move, back and forth across the wake.

The most vivid memory I have about him was that he would have his boat in the water as soon as the ice melted up until it froze again. He didn't fish; he didn't like to boat around on the lake and do nothing. In early spring his boat was in the water, which meant he was in the water. He seemed to take the attitude that the problem with ice on the water is that it would prevent you from jumping in. If we complained about the water being cold he would tell us, "this is like bath water."

I don't know if he was used to the temperature because he was used to Wisconsin lakes or if he just played tough, but I noticed that if I stayed in the cold water long enough, it no longer felt so cold. I do enough fishing and hunting to know that, if you are in cold water, after a time your core body temperature starts to drop and you can actually start to feel as if the water is warm. The dangerous becomes comfortable.

The environments we are most familiar in often become the most comfortable for us. Not because they are necessarily healthy, but because they are familiar. How, then, can we recognize unhealthy circumstances in our lives? This is not an easy question to answer because there can be so many circumstances in our lives, all of which may be unique from the others.

If you are sitting in frigid waters and they start to feel warm, we can know that feeling warm is not a good barometer to tell us if we are in a safe situation. Our "warm pool" will only be killing us. In the same way with life, we cannot just use our feelings as a gauge to tell us if we are in a healthy situation. For example, a person addicted to drugs may feel good when they are high; also a parent may feel horrible about having to administer a firm disciplinary action on a child. Some poor barometers may be feelings, familiarity, approval and lack of conflict. On the contrary some good barometers may be wise counsel, morals and ethics, boundaries and good reasoning. This is not a complete list, and the good barometers may still be difficult to identify and establish. How does one identify if counsel is wise, or if boundaries are healthy or if reasoning is good? Over the next few articles I will discuss these barometers in greater detail. Hopefully, we will all be able to take a closer look at our own circumstances and be able to gauge whether or not we are truly in a warm pool.

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