This book is my life book!

I know that sounds dramatic, but it is nevertheless true.

However, the life of this book would have died on those first yellow, legal-sized tablets stuffed in a folder, or in the leather-bound faded journals at the top of my closet or on the processor of my first Apple Powerbook Duo Dock computer, if my story wasn’t also your story.

My story is your story because we all live with an acute awareness of relational pain and our first and strongest response is to run. And I did. I ran and ran until I was utterly exhausted.

That exhaustion challenged me to put pen to paper and finger to keyboard where I learned to “Stay in the Room” long enough to negotiate both the work and wonder of truly satisfying relationships.

Ask yourself, does your mind wonder and ache from the weight of runaway relationships? They start as a promising and hopeful walk with an acquaintance, then a friend, and become a slow, almost accidental step in the other direction. Initially, the distance is small and unacknowledged, but soon it becomes deliberate and disappointing. Finally, there is nothing left but a whimpering regret filled with empty questions:
• What did I do?
What did I not do?
• Why didn’t they understand me?
Did I really not understand them?
• Why did they change?
Did I change?
• Why did they give up?
Did I give up too soon?
• Is it really over?
Can we start over?

We all deal with damaged and broken relationships. When those first moments of disagreement and frustration surface, we either pretend, hoping the differences will disappear, or pout, expecting the other person to read our minds. As the distance grows, misunderstanding leads to analysis, then anger follows with a desire to “win,” resolving nothing.

Typically, this is when we put on our running shoes. We want to run from this person who doesn’t understand us, who has unreasonable expectations of us or worst of all, has betrayed us. So, we run away from the confusion and the pain and start over, pretending that it will be better next time. Only it isn’t and it won’t be until we learn to invest in “Stay in the Room” relationships.

After decades of living, listening and loving people into what I call “redemptively reconciled relationships,” I invite you to put away your running shoes and find a soft chair and a cup of coffee. I invite you to dig deep into your relational regrets and uncover a set of personal principles that will both clarify your past and steer your future. I invite you to experience what can happen when you embrace authenticity, define boundaries, understand compatibility, develop discernment and build enthusiasm.

The coffee is on. The chair is waiting. Come and stay.

After over three decades of managing and motivating people in the local church as a pastor, I now spend my waking hours heralding the call for living in redemptive, reconciled relationships. I simply call them “stay in the room” relationships.