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Wisdom for Life

Are You the Calm or the Storm?

My sweet wife Tina loves to tell people, “John is the calm in my storm.”  But I could probably equally say, “Tina is the storm in my calm.” So what in the world are we talking about?

What we are talking about is a complementary relationship. When you have two people in a healthy relationship, they can be fully, wholly themselves without apology. They feel no pressure to tone down or change who they are, because they are secure in the knowledge that who they are is unique and valuable and handmade by God. And when they can be fully, wholly themselves, then they can give all of themselves, the best of themselves, to the other to serve and complement the other.

I am strong in what I call calm energy— it brings restoring, guiding, resting, healing into a situation.  Tina, on the other hand, is stronger in storm energy– leading, acting, moving, changing.

All people have both calm and storm energy, and everyone needs both.  There are some situations that need the storm and others that need the calm while most need a mixture of both. One isn’t better or worse than the other, but both can drift into trouble if not tempered by the other. Calm energy can drift into passivity if not mixed with a little storm, and storm can become destructive if not balanced with calm. So I help Tina calm her storm when she needs it, and she can put a little storm in my calm when I need it.

There are two keys to making this work. First, you have to know who you are and be comfortable with it. I know I’m a calm, I know that’s my strength that I can offer our relationship, and I don’t have to try and be a storm.  Second, you have to know who the other person is, and trust them enough to let them be who they are without trying to change them. Tina is a storm, and I wouldn’t try to change her for the world.

This applies to any part of ourselves— introvert vs. extrovert, thinker vs. feeler, masculine vs. feminine, we can all be who we are in a relationship and let our partners be who they are.  This enriches both partners and actually creates the relationship itself.  Pastor Rob Bell calls this complementary give and take, this flow of energy the Zimzum of love (based on an ancient Hebrew word).

So, think today of how you and your partner complement each other. Which one of you is the calm and which is the storm, and how can you give to your partner freely while allowing them to be themselves and give to you freely? And check out Rob’s excellent book The Zimzum of Love.   Tina and I have read through this book as a couple and found it full of rich insights.


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