Sharing Lows: FAITH5; Melheim

Copy of Life Moves Pretty Fast (Take Time Tonight)


Here's the link to "Life Moves Pretty Fast." Show it to parents, then invite them to start a nightly check in with FAITH5 (share, read, talk, pray, bless).

Home Huddle: How to Start

If all you had time for each night was five minutes of sharing highs and lows, you would be miles ahead of most families—psychologically, sociologically, neurologically and theologically. But this is just the start of the art. In the chapters that follow, we’ll get to the good stuff. In the meantime, let’s look at how this first step of FAITH5 might look in your nightly routine.

Calling the Huddle
Whoever is going to bed first in your home is empowered to call the nightly home huddle. This could be, “Highs and lows!” or “Huddle up!” or “FAITH5 in five minutes!” After a little exercise to get oxygen, glucose and BDNF coursing through your children’s veins, invite each person to look back on the day. What was one high (a good thing) that happened during the last 24 hours? What was one low (one thing they didn’t consider so great)?

Go around the room. Take turns. Ask everyone to be on watch throughout the day for the highest high and the lowest low. Consider recording your highs and lows in a journal for later reflection. Think of this as a little gift to your family and yourself. Be honest. Be real. Don’t interrupt. Expect everyone to contribute.

Rotating Rooms

Some people have a dedicated space where the sharing of highs and lows always takes place. Others allow the first person going to bed to convene the meeting and call the space. “My room! Five minutes!”

When our children were young, our pillow fight always ended on our waterbed. We followed with highs and lows on the waves. When they hit grade school, the home huddle rotated between Kathryn’s and Joseph’s rooms. For some magical unseen reason, it shifted back to Mom and Dad’s bedroom when they hit high school. Most nights found them lying comfortably on our bed—often with Kathryn Elizabeth’s feet sticking in my face for a foot rub. Even on nights when we were angry with one another and not all that elated to be related, the act of returning to that ritual and comforting space was often all it took to bring us back “home” in our home.

TOMORROW: Two Rules and Three Tools for Highs and Lows

Bigger than Our Biggest Problems


God is bigger

than the Boogie Man

Yes, God is Bigger Than The Boogie Man

Admitting lows before God and each other will show your family that God is bigger than their biggest complaints, bigger than their biggest problems, and bigger than their biggest questions. It will show your children that it is okay to verbalize what is on their hearts. It teaches them to hang on and wrestle with God and God’s people when answers aren’t apparent and pain is unrelenting.

Sharing lows in the context of your primary faith community— your family—will give your child experience in looking for and leaning toward God and God’s people, especially in the midst of problems. It teaches them how to get real, to deal and to heal. It also calls Christ into the center of the problem, discussion and solution.

As Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them” (Matt. 18:20).

A Theology of Sharing Lows


The Bible calls us again and again to place our problems before one another and God for mutual care and support during hard times. The following is a week’s worth of nightly compassion Scriptures. As you read and consider this list, what jumps out?

  • Weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:5).
  • Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2).
  • And be kind to one another, tenderhearted (Eph. 4:32).
  • Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others (Phil. 2:4).
  • Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing (1 Thess. 5:11).
  • Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28).
  • Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you (1 Pet. 5:7).

Sharing lows teaches your children that they are part of life. Sharing these lows before God and a trusted Christian family or a “family of friends” shows your children that they are never alone. Admitting disappointment, weakness, fear and anger out loud is what healthy people do. It reinforces the Church at its most elemental level.

Why not start tonight?

Newspaper Woes as Personal Lows

Fire Cover Time.jpg


On nights when your child can’t think of a personal low, you might want to bring a newspaper or magazine into your sharing time. Challenge your children to look outside themselves a moment. Look around and look again (peri+spect and re+spect). You don’t need to flip too far into the paper to realize that there are millions of children around the world who are starving, without homes, and trapped in poverty. Look around and look again. There is a world of pain, a world in need, and a world of insatiable greed. Look around and look again.

Maybe God is calling your child to be part of the solution with his or her life rather than part of the problem. Look around and look again. That child in the newspaper doesn’t have shoes on his or her feet or a bed to sleep in, and here your children are complaining about having to shop at Walmart for school clothes or drive an old car to school! 

Look around and look again, this time with the eyes of Christ. The experience of bringing a newspaper into the nightly ritual can grow a self-centered, inward-turning child into a young adult who is both aware and filled with such care that he actually does something for this hurting world with his life.

TOMORROW: A Theology of Sharing Lows

Stay Up and Fight


Don't go to
bed mad

Stay up and fight

"Don’t go to bed mad. Stay up and fight."


Sharing both highs and lows teaches people how to forgive. It builds empathy (em+pathos, meaning “in pain”), sympathy (sym+pathos, meaning “with pain”), compassion (com+passion, meaning “suffering along with”) and camaraderie.

It validates, affirms and strengthens the other person. It creates (commiserates) people who enter each other’s pain willingly to share it and bear it with them, rather than people who are dragged into another’s pain kicking and screaming and trying their best to get away from them. Sharing lows builds all these gifts and all that support into the core of the family ritual.

Why would you not want to give these gifts to your friends, your spouse, your child, your mom in the nursing home tonight... and every night?

The Neurology of Sharing Lows

Nerve CellFiring.jpg


Share a Low

What happens neurologically when you share a low? Like sharing a high, a message comes from the brain at 100 yards per second. It speeds down the ends of the neurons. Little bags of neurotransmitter chemicals— amino peptides and endorphins—are released, and they jump across the synapse and bond to a protein on the other side. All through your body, at 100 yards per second, flashes a painkiller!

More free drugs!

When you cry and release the pain, the chemical composition in your tears has a higher concentration of dopamine than do your tears when you laugh. Dopamine is a pleasure enhancer and painkiller. A good cry is powerful medicine! Crying also releases tension, cleanses toxic stress hormones from the body, and increases the body’s ability to heal. Not bad side effects for a drug that is free and self-dispensable.

Have you ever cried so hard you were exhausted? Afterward, you felt great. Why wouldn’t you give those same free drugs—God’s good medicine—every night to the people you love?

Drug your loved ones tonight.

(From the nothing-but-FIVE-STARS Amazon book "Holding Your Family Together")

Focusing Away from Self



Away from Self

Actively listening to each other’s lows allows the listener for a moment to focus on something other than his or her own pain. Imagine raising a teenager who thinks: "Hmmm . . . my mom has problems too, or, Hmmm . . . my dad . . . he’s a human being."

Taking turns sharing highs and lows draws you to focus both on yourself and on the needs of others. When you take turns sharing both highs and lows, it teaches you that it’s not all about you. (Yes, it is about you—but it’s not ALL about you.)

Look Around and Look Again
We mentioned earlier that peri+spect means to look around. Re+spect means to look again. Sharing a low and listening to others open up and own up to their pain leads to both broader perspective and deeper respect. So look around and look again. Other people have problems, too. Look around and look again. Some of their problems are actually worse than yours, and yet they seem to be coping. Look around and look again. It may be by leaving your pity-party and helping others that you will actually help yourself.

TOMORROW: The Neurology of Sharing Lows

Getting Real (For Sharing Out Loud!)


If you don't take the trash out...

from time to time, it really starts to stink.
- Melheimian Maxim #26

The brilliance and beauty of Alcoholics Anonymous starts with the first step: owning up to your problems and naming them aloud in front of a trusted group of friends. Until that first step happens, no growth, no progress and no healing can begin. You are all alone in the world. Whatever your problem is, if you can simply state it out loud—“Hello, I’m Richard, and I’m a Lutheran”—you are on the royal road to recovery. The power moves toward you and away from the problem. The sliver can be extracted. The ointment can be applied.

The healing can begin. If you don’t get real, you cannot deal. If you cannot deal, you will not heal.


Sanctuary Much, Ladies and Gentlemen
Sharing lows each night gives your children both the tools and the experience of practicing healthy problem-solving skills in the safe context of loving relationships and a trusting family. This isn’t about interference, judgment or intrusion. It’s about modeling and practicing active listening, reflection, self-awareness and healthy, caring communication every night.

These simple practices teach children they don’t have to hold anything inside. They are not alone. There are people, places and sacred spaces to get real, to deal and to heal. A home that instills and installs this nightly sharing of both highs and lows becomes a safe sanctuary where tears, fears and even failures can be discussed and worked out in confidence and love. The home becomes a grace place where children can be honest in expressing grief, hurts and disappointments.

This simple and intentional faith practice spins a protective cocoon around a child’s fragile development one strand at a time.

One low at a time.

One night at a time.

How about start sharing Highs AND Lows tonight with someone you love?



The Sociology of Sharing Lows


Let it go


"In an era of texting, Facebook, email, IM and cell phones, sharing highs and lows is a face-to-face, incarnational embodiment of God’s love and care. People feel loved when they feel heard. We can “love them through” their problems."  -  TIM SEITZ-BROWN

Sharing a low with the people you love minimizes the pain. It does so not by minimizing the problem but by taking it off your shoulders and placing it into the arms of those who love and trust you the most. Everyone you “let in” is on your team. Everyone “in the know” who loves you now has antenna up searching for solutions. Everyone who cares is now praying to see answers and working to be the answers to the prayers. Everyone has your back. 

Sharing a low breaks down lonely walls. It gives you security, fosters vulnerability, and builds a deeper bond than simply sharing a high. It creates an awareness of what is going on in your own inner life and in the inner lives of others. It draws out deep compassion, builds stronger connections, and creates more resilient communities. It allows those you allow inside to know and love you in the ways you yearn to be known and loved. It also allows them to enter creatively, yet more objectively, into your situation, your pain and your prayers. The sharing and the caring that surround the hurt open up the possibility for confession, absolution, forgiveness and reconciliation.


Stress and Illness



For crying out loud...

The Centers for Disease Control report that more than half of all deaths between the ages of 1 to 65 result from stress. Another study estimates that 110 million people worldwide lose their lives annually to disease caused by unmanaged stress. Although the United States accounts for only 5 percent of the world’s population, we consume 33 percent of all anti-anxiety pills.

According to Norman B. Anderson of the APA, 75 percent of all health-care costs are associated with chronic illnesses, and a key driver of chronic illnesses is stress.

Stress can be directly linked to all six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung disease, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, and suicide. A good shrink can help you shrink your problems. But why not teach your children how to shrink their own problems while they’re young enough and the problems are small enough to be self-shrunk? (Hey, I’m cheap, but wouldn’t it save a whole lot of time, grief, pills and money?)

Some say light is the best disinfectant. I’d argue that sound is a pretty great disinfectant as well. Giving your child the gift of your time, complete attention and care—along with the practice of sharing their hurts, fears and concerns out loud each night—is a beautiful and powerful step on the road to mental and emotional health. 

So, Highs AND Lows tonight? Every night?

I Feel Your Pain


Patient: Dr., what can I do to solve my problems?
Doctor: Nothing. You're not qualified.


When it comes to stress-related problems, children are at the most risk. The habits and stress-coping mechanisms that parents and caregivers set in place for them early on will follow them the rest of their lives and either bless or curse their world. According to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) survey, stress is taking its toll on the young: 

“Children are hurting. Almost a third of children reported that in the last month they had experienced a physical health symptom often associated with stress, such as headaches, stomachaches or trouble falling or staying asleep. In addition, parents don’t realize their own stress is affecting their kids. While 69 percent of parents say their stress has only a slight or no impact on their children, just 14 percent of youth say their parents’ stress doesn’t bother them. When kids are under stress, she explains, they may eat too much, sleep too much or favor sedentary coping activities like watching television; the resulting weight gain and the teasing and bullying that often accompany it can lead in turn to more stress, creating a cycle that can be difficult to escape from.”

Society is filled with people who haven’t had the forum, format or modeling about how to deal with their problems. We have to pay people to listen to us in this culture. How sad and tragic is that? I am glad there are caring, trained counselors who can help us dig deep, but wouldn’t it be cheaper, better and more proactive to raise a generation of children who didn’t need to bury their problems in the first place?

How about honest sharing of Highs AND Lows every night, starting tonight?

The Voldemort Effect






The Voldemort Effect 

There is great power in being able to speak the name of your problems out loud. I call this the “Voldemort Effect,” after the evil being in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. No one dared speak his name aloud except Harry. 

“He who shall not be named” holds a mysterious and sinister grip on everyone—a hidden power—until the Harry Potters of the world decide, “We are not going to remain silent. We will not cower as captives to fear. We are going to name that sucker out loud. We are going to call him what he is and who he is so we can deal with the real problem, not the myth. We are going to draw him out into the open, and then kill him together or together die trying!”

A strange and wonderful thing happens the moment you dare speak the name of “he who shall not be named” aloud. A subtle but significant power transfer begins. The moment the silence is broken, the power begins to drain away from its sinister source and move in the direction of those who dare deal with it. In that moment, if spoken aloud and shared within the confidence of a loving family or a trusted family of friends, the newly transferred power begins to grow, strengthen and multiply. There, in the hands and hearts of the people who love you and want the best for you, a treasure trove of solutions, allies, creativity and untapped resources suddenly springs to the surface. The Rebel Alliance, the Elves, the Hobbits, the students of Hogwarts and the Narnians are emboldened as they suddenly see they have a chance.

Okay, too many mixed “narraphors.” You get the point. As for Lord Voldemort, let’s just say: “Leave him unnamed and he grows each day; name him aloud and he shrinks away.”