As the mother of a gorgeous teenager I am being plunged head first into awareness of the various stages that teenagers face in this current era. My heart goes out to the many adolescents who are struggling through these stages, so I have decided to start a new category on this blog called Teen Trials. This subject has been close to my heart for a very long time as I have worked with teens previously and witnessed many degrees of fallout from this crucial phase.
First, a little background…..
I was raised in a single parent household and my mother worked long hours. This meant that my siblings and I were left to our own devices for most of the time. As you can imagine, we got up to much mischief, and thought we were adults long before we should have. As I grew into actual adulthood, I began to find large gaps in my understanding of the world, of relationships, of self-control, of self-esteem, of decisions, of faith. As a result I have made a conscious effort to be around my children as much as possible. I have tried to teach them every single thing I have learned throughout my life. I have struggled with my role as a parent right in plain sight of my children. It is not easy but I believe it is worth it.
A little understanding….
Just like the rest of us, children have their own inner enemies, forces within the flesh guiding them towards unacceptable or unhealthy behaviour. I believe it is the job of the parent to point out these behaviours and use discipline to teach their little ones the destructive consequences of allowing inner enemies unfettered influence. The trouble teenagers face in this regard, is that adolescence is the transitional period where the child must take the reigns of control over their own inner enemies, and parents must find ways to encourage them.
Obviously this is one of the most difficult phases for both teens and their parents, and different parents have different techniques for getting through it. Some are overbearingly strict, which may cause the child to remove themselves from the discipline of their parents in order to gain their own self-control. Some try to be more of a friend, feeling that they should no longer set rules or guidelines for fear of being seen as unapproachable. While other parents take a distant approach and allow the teens much more freedom than is supportive, which may cause their teens to make irrational decisions long before they are mature minded enough to understand the long term consequences.
Then there are the parents who try to aim for a healthy balance, to give enough freedom for the final decision to be their teens own, but with enough support to be able to use their parents’ wisdom as a compass.
Some important keys….
The main keys to this balance are a strongly maintained relationship, open communication, respect, intimacy, value, support and faith. It must go both ways.
Here are a few things I have learned so far about these keys….
Name calling will diminish the level of respect. Without respect the wheels of intimacy fall off.
Yelling only encourages self-imposed deafness. They will simply stop trying to hear you. (It is almost impossible not to yell in the heat of the moment, but a rational talk, after giving them an apology, will open up those lines of communication again.)
Just letting them know you are there for them during the tough times gives them much needed support.
Faith is mimicked, we can’t expect our children to demonstrate more faith than we do.
Compassionate listening without dismissing or lecturing is hard, but try anyway as it helps them tremendously.
Time together creates a relationship, the more time you spend enjoying someone’s company, the stronger a relationship you have.
The more valuable a child feels, the less they will be seduced by a world that is full of false flattery. (Do you tell your child you love them all the time? Try telling them how precious they are to you, or how much you value them, how worthy they are. It sounds different to them.)
As I continue in my journey as the Mum of a young lady becoming an adult, I will share with you in this category. I’d love to hear any tips you would care to share to help me along the way and I hope some will share future posts with their teens also.
I used to believe that I was dead right about the way I assessed my emotions. I used them as platforms from which to bounce. I saw good emotions as reasons to smile, laugh and brag, and I saw negative emotions as an unacceptable state that I wanted to give away to anyone who would listen. I wanted to avoid and control negative feelings. I believed I was addressing everything and never “swept it under a rug”. I told myself this was healthy.
Realistically I was catapulting from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other, and stability was so rare I could barely recognise it enough to know I needed it. Truth be told, I used emotions as an excuse to be reckless in my pursuit of happiness. I thought life owed me happiness, I knew no different. I believed my pain wouldn’t stop unless I focused on it, gave it credit and tried to find a way to stop it. Little did I know, I was adding fuel to the unstable emotional fire.
It was very difficult to firstly accept this mindset and then change it, especially as my entire family of origin are equally emotionally driven.
It is important to understand that emotions are powerful catalysts to another dimension. A dimension where an alien can easily take control of our ship if we fail to handle these inner enemies with caution.
When we become aware of the destructive nature of emotional instability we are on our way to laying a new foundation from which to bounce through life.
Try looking at emotions as an ocean, high waves and low, ripples that can carry on for miles, sometimes intense and sometimes peaceful but always temporary.
Acknowledge how you feel, and why, recall the evidence of past destructive tendencies, and remind yourself, “I am not to be trusted to make good choices right now”. Just like standing under an impending wave, keep your head down (lay low, try to engage with the world as little as possible), allow the waves to crash or wash over you and give it as much time is needed until the wave has passed. You may actually be surprised how much more quickly the emotions lose intensity once you learn to ride them out this way. Once it is safe to lift your head you will see how much more clearly you can think. A clear head space is vital for preventing the mess that is often left in the wake of uncontrolled emotions.
We can’t control emotions by stopping them or avoiding them, but we can control how much damage they cause us by controlling ourselves during those waves. Thanks be to God, I have noticed that I can manage the lows much better than I used to, and find long-lasting peace in the present, without all the emotions that only seemed to create temporary happiness.
There is no denying it, strong emotions easily influence our decisions, and not usually in a good way.
We’ve all experienced overwhelming emotions in varying degrees in our lives. Times when clarity evades us under a dark cloud of confusing heartache, desperation, anguish, guilt, fear….
Even enjoyable emotions can negatively influence our decisions, especially in relationships. We feel so strongly, emotionally excited, that we let our pursuit of those feelings misguide our ability to be logical and rational regarding the pace we let the relationship develop and how deeply or quickly we invest our trust. Not just in romantic relationships but friendships as well. Our desire to be loved and accepted can smother the logic that recognizes a red flag and should deter us from believing flattery and false promises.
Negative emotions can cause us to make rash reactive decisions, without evaluating at the time, we may not like the long term consequences. We have all made a decision in the heat of the moment only to realize we would have done things differently had we had control of the emotions effecting us at the time.
I suffer from a few psychological issues, mainly anxiety and a manic/depressive mood disorder. Unstable emotions play a huge role in my daily life. I am extremely guilty of letting emotions control my decisions in the past, and truth be told, they still haunt me sometimes.
So what has changed? …. Lots!
We may not be able to stop our emotions, but we can prevent them from poisoning our choices. Oh and don’t be confused here: Reactions are not choices. However, using our emotions to excuse our reactions is a choice.
Through many years of therapy and self-awareness I have learned not to trust my emotions. I have learned to accept them as a reactive response but I know if I act too quickly while experiencing the emotion I will regret it later. So I had to set myself some rules.
It is important to develop your own set of rules, by looking back over your life and seeing the patterns. If you know you always find yourself in the same predicaments over and over, seek a Councillor/Psychologist to help you establish some rules that are healthy for you and the decisions you want to make in future.
Look carefully at the people you spend time with. Are they empowering your emotions and encouraging impulsive choices? Or do they display self-control and rational choices? We are all influenced by the people we associate with on a regular basis, but the beauty is we get to choose not to spend time with those who negatively impact us.
A stable confidant is vital to this transition, to detoxing our decision making.
When dealing with volatile situations and strong emotions, get some distance from the immediate situation and speak to someone who you know has a calm, unemotional sense of reason before doing anything else.
Remember: A little prayer goes a long way. If you resonate with this post but doubt your ability to overcome your overpowering emotions, ask your Heavenly Father for some help, read His Word. Through Christ’s strength ALL things are possible!
Watching from the outside as someone you love is being put through the paces of a “life changing” experience can be quite nerve wracking. My Dad used to say “There can be no reconstruction without there first being deconstruction”, or simply, “No one can rebuild a better life until they go through the process of breaking down their current life.”
Friends, family and others can offer simple support or short term guidance to loved ones in crisis, but unfortunately sometimes certain attempts to help may actually enable the unhealthy patterns to continue. Offering comfort and attempts to fix or stop the suffering can prevent them learning the very important lesson which only rock bottom can teach.
When someone truly seeks Him, God is the ultimate designer of both deconstruction and reconstruction. The strategy in place is that before we can accept His blessings and have a productive, fulfilling and contented life, we must allow Him to shake things up, to show us where the problem areas are. Then we must learn to distance ourselves from the old ways we have been living and determine our minds to be renewed, through His word and an honest relationship with Him.
As you may have guessed, this is not a simple one time action. It takes many steps to undo all the unhealthy beliefs, habits and influences on our decisions, to completely remove their power over us. Sure enough, these steps aren’t all forward, we may take ten steps backwards before one faithfully productive step forward is earned. It can feel like we aren’t getting very far at all, and it can appear that way to those around us as well.
It can be tempting to get drawn in by those going through the ugliness of this phase, out of concern for the destruction we are witnessing, or our desire to prevent our loved ones from suffering. However, we may want to remember that progress isn’t pretty, and be reminded of how many times we had to fall and become a complete mess before we saw any progress in our own lives. Pray for them, love them, give them into God’s trustworthy hands, and try not to allow fear to motivate our contributions to their issues. Don’t let it make you lose faith in the possibility of positive faithful progress, which may be just around the next corner they take. Remember and believe that we serve a LOVING, FAITHFUL & AMAZING GOD!
How weak and discouraged we can become! Oh how easy it is to slip! It amazes me that even with bucket loads of genuine faith, it is still so easy to listen to our own excuses and take the easier options. A profound quote, which I heard recently, comes to mind….
“The blood of Christ can cleanse EVERY confessed sin, the only thing it cannot cleanse is an excuse!”
There are countless excuses to put off doing the often grueling work of a calling. My recent excuse has been my illness and medication. The high levels of medication needed for the past year totally destroyed my ability to be creative. I could barely come up with an idea of what to make for dinner, let alone write something that may inspire any of you!
In His usual merciful way, the Lord gives much needed grace. The pressure to perform work for Him decreases, and even though we keep Him in our thoughts and speak of Him to others, It’s easier to turn to comfort and away from suffering willingly. Instead of researching diligently for motivation and spiritual food, we often give up and lean hard on any distraction.
True to form, the Lord gives us enough rope to hang ourselves with, and as usual He reaches down and intervenes before we can completely destroy ourselves and all His blessings around us.
As the rope tightens, fear overcomes us, discord enters our lives from almost every angle. In my case I became defensive and self-righteous. I had used my excuses for a longer period than God had deemed acceptable. By stepping outside His will we step outside His protection. As a result we become discouraged, full of confusion and despair.
In times like this we need a WORD from the Lord, and sometimes that word is not the full picture but a single step which He directs us to take. A single step of obedience, often a horribly scary and difficult step. However when you get a WORD from God you know that you know what you must do, no doubt at all. It’s a step that takes constant prayer, complete reliance on God’s strength to stick to it, and acceptance of our weakness, our inability to perform it without Him. All trust and Hope must be in Him!
Steps like this usually go against every step we would normally take, it is a step within the spiritual system and appears to be something entirely different to those in the world system. It also comes with intense demonic attack. Attack trying to discourage you so your faith is weak. Attack to distract you from staying within God’s will, and you can be sure you will get attack after taking that step of obedience, as spiritual backlash. This is spiritual warfare at it’s core, a fight within ourselves against our flesh, a fight within ourselves against our poisoned souls and hard hearts, a fight against the armies of the spiritual world aimed to unravel God’s plan. Inner Angels and Enemies in full force BATTLE!
Without knowing the entire message, we must obey, we must take that step and stand there waiting for our next direction. Standing in that tiny square, waiting on God in obedience, is a test. How long we must stay there depends on how long it takes for us to get an A+. God wants us to pass with flying colours and is patient enough to wait however long it takes.
After the time of this test, while standing still, leaning on this WORD, this step, I turned, face first into God’s presence and the moment I did, the Lord began to comfort me. Not many more steps were needed in His direction to receive His revelation, and after my remorseful confession came His wonderful blessing! Stable, Strong, Zealous, and Productive Faith!
I am overjoyed to be useful to Him again! To have Clarity replace Confusion, Faith replace Fear, Health replace Illness, Love replace Hate. God is SO GOOD!
One thing I have found to be a true blessing, along with spiritual faith, is self-awareness. It is one of the most important things we need to achieve growth and inner peace in this life, and something I write about often.
I have lately been thinking about those who may not have as much self-awareness as others, about those people who haven’t changed much over the years, and are still stuck in the same old patterns they have always been.
I read a little something recently, it said:
“If you are the same person, with the same perspective you had a decade ago; then you have just wasted ten years of your life!”
Before I gained some Godly self-awareness, I thought I was self-aware. I thought I was a ‘good person’. I prided myself on having good intentions and wisdom. My heart was in the right place (or so I thought), I knew the difference between right and wrong (or so I thought), and I was a good friend and family member (or so I thought).
Back then I had no regrets, I had no lingering, self-conscious guilt, because I always had a very good explanation for my actions. It was usually something like, “I meant well”, “I felt ….”, “I’m only human”, or “I had no choice” (because of what someone else did first).
I had little or no remorse for my own actions, (unless of course I got hurt in the fallout). I never set out to hurt anyone, and if I did hurt someone else, I found a way to believe I was right, and that made it ok with me. I saw no reason to change, I was onto it (or so I thought). I used my excuses, and understanding to stay in my own spiraling cycle.
When I became aware of how God saw things, it smacked me in the face and it hurt!
I was SELFISH! I saw things from my way and didn’t consider that perhaps there was a better way. Sure I was always rushing to help people, I was thoughtful and did kind deeds all the time. I tried to find ways to show my affection for others so that they would know how much I thought of them. But I didn’t realise that I was really only doing it to be seen as a good person, not because I was actually a good person. I couldn’t admit the truth to myself so I figured all the trials of life were not lessons I had to learn, just tests to see if I was strong enough and if I could keep my faith through them.
Life will do it’s best to help us become aware of ourselves, and if we stop avoiding it we will be amazed by the realisation. And while it is a challenge to work hard and break the cycles you have been stuck in your whole life, it is definately worth it.
In a recent therapy session we were discussing the downfalls of having no self-awareness. My therapist put it this way “If you don’t regret your actions that affected yourself or others in a negative way, then you avoid the reasoning to need to repair the situation, and refuse to take a realistic look at yourself and make necessary changes.” In other words, these people can’t apologise without explaining why they aren’t really to blame, and they don’t see the need to alter the way they handle things.
He also said that “People who excuse their own actions and don’t own up to the pain they caused another, will continue to hurt others and will usually end up very lonely, they will also wonder why”.
How sad is that! Out of a lack of self-awareness we can damage our relationships so badly, and some will never find the inner peace of growth, or a new perspective and the truth about themselves. It may leave them without a clue as to why they feel isolated from others. We can easily blame everyone else yet we refuse to accept blame ourselves, it would simply be more productive if we swallowed our pride and took a good look in the mirror. That is the only area of our lives that we can bring about a true transformation.
The serenity prayer is one commonly found in households all over the world. It aims to tackle this self-awareness problem. We need the courage to face ourselves head on, to see the truth about ourselves and make the adjustments necessary to bring about a change in our lives, one we will never regret.
“God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Santa, Christmas trees, excess, overload are things that hurt my heart at Christmas. As I walk around my daily life at this time of year, nothing reminds me of the wonderful joyful time of celebrating the Birth of Our Saviour. I hope you all have a safe and merry time praising the Name of Our Lord this Christmas. Blessings to you!
Originally posted on Inner Angels & Enemies:
“Lilly sit still” My mother’s voice rings out
“I don’t want to” I say, as I punch and shout.
The fat jolly man on who’s knee I was sat
Thought it ok to give a soothing pat
But his touch didn’t soothe my flighty fight
In fact it didn’t feel quite right
And when I tried to sleep that night
The thought of him gave me an awful fright
I’d heard of Santa Claus and his right
To come into my home at night
Our security screens were in doubt
And wouldn’t keep this stranger out
My parents said “sleep” I must
For “Santa Claus we sure could trust”
But everything else they had taught before
Lay open in warning all over the floor
I knew I hadn’t done my best all year
So why were there so many presents here?
They told me he…
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In memory of my Dear Dad…. It has been 4 years this week since Dad went to the next place. Until we meet again. Much Love. xoxo P.s. The book was wonderful! Blessings to all!
Originally posted on Inner Angels & Enemies:
Until the passing of my Dad from cancer a couple of years ago I had not previously suffered the loss of anyone who was extremely close to my heart. It was such a shock to my inner spirit, even though I consciously knew it was coming, I had no idea how I would handle the grief of such a loss.
He was the most spiritually-powerful person in my life who would fervently pray for me when I was too deep in my own weakness to pray for myself, which of course was when I needed it the most. He was my mentor, my confidant and my friend and the hole he left in my life is proving to be extremely hard to fill.
I guess I am lucky in the sense that he helped me to build such intensely strong beliefs, and somewhat of an understanding of the spiritual realm…
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Before I began blogging, I was disheartened by the lack of people who I could interact with, who pursued a genuine relationship with Christ and God. A rare gem, to discover another person who accepted the way I experienced God. I have a few gems in my life, luckily. Yet I always searched, yearning for more. I was blessed to stumble across many of you who fellowship with me in such a loving supportive way.
Before blogging I found many religious people who knew the scriptures inside and out, who called themselves “Born Again”, but after time they mostly wanted to argue their interpretation and seemed unable or unwilling to accept the personal relationship that I was developing with my Heavenly Father. They tried to direct my path with many different scriptures, expecting me to apply them to my current situation, instead of trusting God to reveal His Word and His Will to me as I walked by His side, under His direction.
Like many others, I found myself directed away from their rigid, graceless, control. I pulled back from their judgmental condemnation of my imperfections or my choices. I didn’t want to draw nearer, rather wanted to protect my fragile heart from their looks of disdain and disapproval as I confessed my daily struggles with the flesh.
How many of us have had people knock on our door, claiming to have the one right way to be saved, the only way, according to them? I have had many. The most recent wasn’t satisfied with my confession of love and devotion to God and His Son. He kept trying to trip me up with vague questions, ones which he had carefully selected the only answer he would accept. For every scripture he threw in my face I gave him back three to think on. Yet he was unwilling to accept me. I was standing in my own home being berated and dismissed by someone who claimed to be encouraging me towards God. Needless to say I informed him of this and sent him on his way with love….. No one has been back to encourage me since then.
Over the years I have begun to understand the reason many people can’t accept our daily walk under God’s direction, rather than under their control. I believe it is unfathomable to many, that we might know how to perceive God’s personal instructions. Simply because God has not revealed Himself to them or just because the are not at that stage of faith yet.
The scriptures often contradict each other much of the time, not every scripture applies to every situation. We must be humble and willing enough to let God use them inspirationally to show us His Will for each of us, at each stage of our lives.
No other human being, not one, knows what God has planned for us, except to say He is FOR us! Only we can discover His plan for us through our personal relationship with Him.
No human, not one, knows who God will show mercy and forgiveness to, or who He will reign down His wrath upon.
No human, not one, knows what actions God will choose to forgive and which He will condemn.
These privileges have not been given to us because we are not GOD, who sees into the hearts of His children, and anyone who claims to know these things is simply playing at being God.
The path is narrow, but your narrow path is not my narrow path, God is omnipotent enough to have designed a narrow path for each and every one of us, if we continue to seek it. He didn’t make just one plan and need to make every different amazingly created human to fit into it.
Enough is enough. If you find yourself using scriptures to make someone else feel unworthy and unloved then you may want to ask yourself if you have missed the whole lesson that Christ suffered horrendously to bring us.
Lately I have noticed that I am praying a lot for tolerance… Tolerance from others while I am at my worst, tolerance for others when I’m irritated by them, and tolerance in others when they need it.
Tolerance is defined, in the Miriam-Webster Online Dictionary as -
*Willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own.
*The ability to accept, experience, or survive something harmful or unpleasant.
“Tolerance” … This word just seems to keep popping up all over conversations lately. Or is it only around me?
For most of my “pre-therapy” life, and before my Dad began to show me a new way, I used to have very little tolerance. If I thought you were out of line I would call you on it straight away, no grace, no compassion, no self-awareness. I was young, defensive, and quite honestly, very insecure. It made me feel better about myself, if I came across faults in others. I notice this is very common practice in many people.
When my Dad taught me about grace, he made me try to find excuses for all types of behaviours which I regularly found unacceptable. He tried to get me to step out from who I am, what I know, what I think, and see any situation from another perspective. It helped me begin to give grace to others for things I would usually get annoyed at. This didn’t only help others feel more comfortable around me, it also made me feel more comfortable in situations that would usually irritate me. That’s the thing about tolerance, it works both ways. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being irritated or blindly irritating others, so this was such a blessed lesson for me.
After years of therapy and faith, I have noticed something valuable that I want to share with you….
The more I love and accept myself, the more I work on being my best self, the more tolerance I have for my imperfections, then the more I seem to create a buffer of tolerance around me.
I began to notice more and more, that the small annoying imperfections of others generally roll off my back. I no longer go about continuously and harshly judging others because I know how hard it can be to get things right all the time. Snide remarks don’t always make me feel like I must respond and put them back in their place. The criticisms of others don’t always make me defend myself by trying to make them change their mind about me. Almost like a big cushion softening the blows that would normally have me reeling in despair and reacting with aggression. Life has taught me about grace. How greatly we need it ourselves when we are at our worst. How genuinely we can give it when others are at their worst.
Having greater tolerance doesn’t mean you permit others to treat you badly or make you feel bad about yourself. It is that you are less effected by their ill-treatment or irritating behaviour. It doesn’t bother you as much as it does when your level of tolerance is low. What it does give you, is a more stable platform from which you can decide when someone’s behaviour has crossed a line, rather than reacting irrationally out of intolerance. Then you can set a boundary in place to protect yourself, before their behaviour begins to effect you in an extremely negative way.
There is only so much tolerance we can have when we are exposed to nastiness, abuse, and attack. We may tolerate these things for a period of time, but once you stand firmly on a foundation of self-acceptance and put up that boundary, you are stating to those around you that you will not tolerate being treated in a way that lacks decency.
I believe it is important for people to own their actions. Setting in place a boundary, gives you a place of protection until they are willing to own up to their mistreatment of you and repair any damage. Some will, and many won’t, but at least you won’t spend your days being in a state of irritated intolerance. You may even be able to move forward with peace…..
Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for tolerance. Help us all come to understand your grace and build up your truths in our hearts and minds. Help us accept ourselves as your wonderfully made creations, and help us increase the amount of tolerance in our lives. Let us know your instructions clearly when it is time to set up a boundary, and give us security in your strength and protection. In Yeshua’s Mighty Name, I pray.