Our minds are extremely powerful, capable of incredible feats of deep thinking, absorbing knowledge and understanding, and making innovative discoveries. Yet for many of us with a creative mind, which is so often accompanied with manic thought patterns laced with insecurity, our minds may at times begin to feel like an enemy that we cannot always trust to have our best interests at heart. This concept lies at the heart of Inner Angels and Enemies.
During our journey in faith we become aware of God’s ever present and watchful eye upon us. Even if we somehow managed to avoid and drown it out previously, we soon find ourselves very aware of its constancy as we pursue righteousness and Christ likeness.
I realised recently that my regular overthinking patterns are severely impacted by the pursuit of righteousness and the undoubtable fact that God’s eye never leaves me, plus my constant awareness of Him and ALL that He is. Which is wonderful when considering His abundant Love, Protection and Provision. Yet when concerning the wicked hidden intentions of our hearts, our pride and our selfishness, knowing that God is always watching can become something to shy away from, leading to self-condemnation and excess guilt.
Inner Enemies are always trying to convince us of God’s apparent tyranny. Using our vulnerability under God’s watchful eye, to emphasize our flaws and failings, in an aim to use our shame to motivate us to HIDE from God’s sight. This scheme goes back to the beginning of mankind when Adam and Eve first tried to HIDE from God in the Garden of Eden.
“They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”… (Genesis 3: 8-10)
Thinking on this we see that they hid themselves because they were ashamed. Yet God is well aware of our hidden flaws, and the things we are ashamed of, there is no hiding no matter how much we try. We can only distance ourselves from Him at our end, by closing our hearts off to Him and by trying to ignore His presence, leaving us separated from His covenant protection, and provision. Is that really what we want?
I was prompted to ponder this in more detail recently when I read this scripture.
“But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love” (Psalms 33:18)
When we read that word FEAR we immediately begin to conjure up images in our heads of being afraid, scared, perhaps of someone unfair, selfish and even evil. This is The Enemy once again suggesting that God is an intimidating bully of some description. Yet that word Fear has interpretations meaning to “Cause astonishment and awe, be held in awe, and to inspire reverence or godly fear or awe” This fear is the automatic response of our heart when we are deeply rooted in respect and admiration for God’s omnipotence. Just as any respectful child has high esteem looking up to those in a loving but firm position of authority over them, such as a parent, a guardian, a mentor, or coach. Therefore, we can have this same awed fealty when we return God’s gaze with our own.
Then we read about ‘those who hope in God’s unfailing love’. Those who have spent enough time in true relationship with the Almighty will have plenty of evidence of His goodness to find hope in His unfailing Love. The Holy Spirit who has been growing within us, guides us to depend on the truth of God’s Love, which God’s very nature and power are established in. It is only our Inner Enemies that hold up our shame and guilt as reasons to doubt the truth of His love.
But what about all those flaws that we are ashamed of? Doesn’t He want us to improve our character towards righteousness?
ABSOLUTELY! It is the most important task He has assigned each of us in the entire universe!
But righteousness only truly happens in us when we press into HIM. He offers us a way through His loving grace to develop a character like Christ. Under His watchful eye He purges our deepest hidden wickedness and replaces it with His very own spirit, He removes our shame and replaces it with freedom. When we constantly reciprocate His gaze by keeping our eyes focused on Him miracles within us begin to happen!
If we had valid reasons to HIDE from Him this whole system would fail!
Isn’t it about time we asked ourselves which entity has the most to gain from the consensus that God is someone to hide from?
The Enemy of God’s whole purpose in existence is to dethrone God and take his place, not just in the Kingdoms of the Universe but most importantly inside each of us. If God is not seated in the highest position of our hearts then the Enemy is, usually in the form of one of his worldly distractions. There is no 3rd option!
What better way to dethrone God than to undermine God’s unfailing love and righteousness, by giving us suggestions of God’s tyranny and reasons to hide our hearts from Him? These are lies in a devious attempt to keep us imprisoned in our own selfish prideful flesh so we may not seek to discover the abundant growth that comes from an intimate relationship with the Awesome Almighty Creator of the Universe who just wants to be close to us!
After everything God and I have been through together, He has unfailingly convinced me that He operates in this system of Love & Grace, reassuring me that there is NO need to HIDE from Him! My spirit grows in trusting Him each time I fall at His feet and He uses my failings and flaws to humble my heart and then uses me to glorify Him!! Amen!!
Therefore I am so utterly grateful for His ever watchful eye. :’) Aren’t you?
Let us not then hide in shame from the God who watches over us, let us reciprocate his loving gaze with our own and keep our eyes and hearts focused on Him. You will never regret it!
You may read this post and not believe it. In fact I can hardly believe it myself but every word is true. The reason for such a lengthy gap between posts is because I was busy jumping off cliffs and bridges, flying in hot-air balloons and meeting the most amazing people and some incredible wildlife up close in Africa. ME? You ask? The one who writes about panic attacks and anxiety disorder! Yes ME!
I was invited to Africa on a family vacation, all expenses paid. Yep! So what do I say? Ummmm let me think about that while I swallow the lump of anxiety in my throat.. Of course not… I may have some crazy in my blood but I am not that crazy! I know an invitation into God’s will when I see one.
This is a trip my husband and MIL have wanted to take for as long as I have known them so it was always kind-of on the cards, but it’s not until you are actually applying for passports and getting your travel shots that you begin to accept the reality of such a task!
To cut a very long story short I had some Godly signs pointing to the bridge jump over the Zambezi river near Victoria Falls. I knew I would be walking distance from this death defying treat whilst in Africa and told myself I would always regret it if I didn’t do it. God had something in store, I knew it! So I went….praying my backside off mind you.
The guys asked me to speak into the video camera before I jumped the 111m toward the river below, so I spoke clearly “Goodbye Anxiety, Goodbye Fear, Goodbye Panic Attacks, Goodbye Control, GOD HAS GOT ME, One one one!” (111 is my special Godly number). I had a 10 seconds free-fall before the rope caught me and swung me out across the gorge, and let me tell you it was incredible, empowering, freeing, and freaking insane! As I swung at the bottom of that rope, surrounded by nothing else but God’s stunning artwork, I sang….. I sang my heart out! “I sing because I am happy, I sing because I’m free, His eye in on the sparrow and I know He watches over me!”
I cried….. Tears of gratitude and joy. Tears of Love for my Heavenly Father who gave me the courage to face myself and my fears, to give total control to Him…. Africa was all about this awesome sense of gratitude!
When I got home to Australia I was telling this story to a friend, and his son. It was the first time I had met the son who was in his early 20’s. He heard me mention panic attacks and told me he used to have 5 panic attacks per day and wouldn’t leave his house. He told me the only way he learned to prevent these attacks was to demand more. Sounds strange I know, but it makes sense. If a panic attack is caused by fear of fear then by facing the fear head on you have only fear, not the fear of fear. By telling fear you know your body can handle your heart pounding, your body can handle uncontrollable tears, your body can handle sweating and dizziness, you begin accepting the fear, and you can’t really be afraid of something that you accept, something you know you are equipped to handle even if you pass out. You will wake up. Even if you cry your eyes out, you will not die from crying. Even if you need to change your underwear afterwards. You have more clean underwear somewhere. Do you hear me out there?!?!
This is exactly what I was doing when I jumped off that bridge, when I agreed to go to Africa at all! I decided that I may feel fear but my body can handle it. God made humans the most adaptable species on the planet, if we can only learn to accept what is happening around us, instead of fighting against it.
So I have tried this new technique a few times since I’ve been home. I tried it when I got cut off in traffic and wanted to snap angrily but decided I can handle people who cut in. Bring it on! I tried it when I felt a painful twang in my stomach and difficult memories of IBS came flooding back. Bring it on I told myself. I can handle this, I have survived this for a long time. When I’m excited by a group of people and begin to ramble nervously, just go with it I said to myself you’re not hurting anyone. God watches over me! He has got me! I can tell you in all honesty it all just fades away. Like it was never there! Amen!
I am yet to try it as the passenger to my learner driving daughter but I am feeling the triumph building within and I am very curious to see if I can ask for more fear whilst driving with her. I must try to tell myself that I may have been in a bad car accident before, but I can handle it! Bring it on!
I am not a thrill seeker, my jump was never about chasing the thrill. It was a leap of faith, a test of my trust! I am not now looking for fear but I am aware that it lurks around me trying to trip me up and this concept is to remind myself that I can take it when it comes! To challenge it to try its best because God has got me!
There are so many things I learned about myself and God whilst on this trip and I look forward to sharing more on here soon. I’m just excited to go live with this new self and really enjoy the changes God has brought about in me. Blessings to you all!
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!
Wow! Wow! Woweee!
I have told you all before that I experience a lot of anxiety. It has caused me extreme discomfort and I have let it hold me back way too often.
I hear people say “Use your nerves” or “Channel your nerves” I have heard it more times than I can count, but I never knew what they meant or how to achieve it.
I found this Marie TV episode extremely profound, helpful is an understatement and, well to be honest, AWESOME!
Some quick simple techniques to understand and overcome fear, nerves, anxiety, shyness etc.
You may be far from calm and serene, but calm may not always be the most effective state when trying to capture attention, (e.g in public speaking, performing etc).
I was told recently that the most creative people more commonly also suffer from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, etc, and that if they could just get out there and share their creative energy without letting their negative emotions prevent them, they would be brilliant!
This information is just what I needed, and I know many of you will be blown away by it too!!
One of the concepts my Dear Departed Dad always used to explain to me, has come back to me recently. It’s as though he still helping me, even after his passing.
Back when he was still around, and I was struggling to keep the faith and stay on track, He always had a phrase of comfort, or a story with stability to ground me. During series of events that made me freak out with fear and dread, events that set off all my triggers of my psychological issues, when I was filled with self-condemnation and depression etc. He knew exactly what to say to provide the support that I needed.
This is another one of his concepts that has come back into my recollection…
“Life is a play, earth is the stage. You are merely playing your role. What you face here and how you must react to it will not last forever. You are just up on stage reciting the lines, responding to the actors, the director and the plot. This is not your permanent place, this is a stepping stone to the next place. Just hold on, play the best part you can, and know that when the curtain drops it will all be over and you will never have to play that role again.”
Does that resonate with you as much as it does me?
If an actor makes a mistake on stage, they just keep going as if nothing happened (yet determined to do better next time). If the audience isn’t paying attention to them they just keep on going, doing their best, the reactions around them hardly effect the play.
In the past it helped me avoid so much dread. It helped me step aside and look at the issues without letting them overwhelm me. How I dearly miss his words of wisdom. I am so grateful that they come back to me like this so I can lean on them once again.
Even though life is tough, and gets to be too much at times, we have also been given some great roles to play that balance out the bad. The times I feel like a good mum, when I play with my girls and nurture them with kindness, approval, affection and attention. As a wife, when I can comfort and support my man. Times I feel completely loved as a child of God, Or am brave enough to share something I created. Amongst gatherings of loved ones filled with laughter and companionship, or as a servant to those in need. Even just the ability to enjoy my own company while staring deep into the blue sky above or a picturesque sunset, or the crashing waves of the ocean.
There are so many fabulous roles for us to play, let’s not allow the harder roles drag us into despair. One day all will be washed new, the curtain will drop on our time here and the next place will be where we can be our true authentic selves, not poisoned by the inner enemies we carry around with us while we are here.
It is just a play and this is just the stage!
It took a long time for me to hit publish on my first post, 2 years in fact. I missed out on the wonderful Blogosphere for so long because it was so very far from my comfort zone. Have you missed out, while clinging to your comfort zone too? But isn’t it amazing when we do take a risk and perhaps experience a little discomfort, in order to bring something new and wonderful into our lives!
After the long list of times I have found success in my faith walk, you would think I might be more courageous. I have written many posts bursting with evidence of courage and victory, posts about standing on God’s promises, about speaking up for faith while risking my reputation. I have shared the amazing tale of trusting God with my premature Daughter. I have advised on all the ways to gain help from above, and many more, but my courage seems fickle sometimes.
I’ve noticed that most of these experiences seem to have emerged from the most desperate times in my life. Times I was fighting for my sanity, when I was fighting for my family’s & my safety, or I was fighting for a new life.
It is much easier to choose to hand these types of situations over to God, because I know I have no control over them anyway.
Recently, God has been teaching me to let go of control in other ways, in areas that don’t threaten my life, or my sanity. Teaching me about sacrificing my ability to create comfort around me.
You see, I have this yearning inside me to go to the next level in my life, like destiny is calling my name so loudly it is deafening sometimes.
Yet, I have a good life. I am extremely blessed. I don’t have that desperation to HAVE TO change or improve anything with great intensity. Life is looking pretty damn good right now, and I am so grateful for that!
I guess I find myself at a point where I am scared of what I will have to give up in order to reach that next level. Sayings, which we have all heard a million times, are replaying in my mind, “Why fix something that is not broken” & “Don’t rock the boat!”. (Sigh*)
I read this awesome post Being Comfortable can Become Crippling and it hit me in the core of my being. It made me realise something profound.
I am crippled by my comfort!
The blogger replied to my comment, where I shared my recent predicament, and her words were simple, convicting and wonderful. I saw how our Inner enemies use our comfort as something we pursue, aimlessly following it wherever it takes us, yet while chasing after this comfort we miss out on the greater blessings and purpose given to us from above.
Her last few words gave me the kick in the pants I needed –
“It’s time to bust out of our comfort zone and jump into the lake of faith and swim. I know we don’t know how deep the water is, but God will be our floatation device. Trust Him!!!”
It is easy to fight against an opposition that is obvious, enemies that you can see threatening you, but we must go deeper and fight against those next level inner enemies, the ones that aren’t so blatant but just as damaging to the greater plan for our lives.
It is time to fight back against these tactics which hold us back. Time to break out of our comfort zone and see what we are really here for.
Lord I pray you show me how, guide me toward YOUR steps, and I will go, with your strength as my cane and your wings as my safety.
There are times when I get so frustrated at myself for my sins, when I drop to my knees and scream “I want to change more!”. The Lord has protected me, and been faithful to me, He suffered for me and forgives me. He has led me to grow through my life and I have changed in so many ways, but still I scream….
I am a Type A, Sanguine personality, we are naturally quite fiery and feisty, not placid and calm very often, being quiet is extremely hard for this personality type. Over the years the Lord has been working on me and we have made some progress in this area. However, I can still get going at times and once I am in full flight it can be nearly impossible to stop myself. In the worst episodes I can be cocky and arrogant, I can be condescending and self-righteous. I mentioned in a previous post that I was praying for the Lord to help me develop quiet confidence and this post seems to be an extension of that.
Many of us grew up answering back and yelling our way through, believing we have to prove we are right against anyone who questions or challenges us. This is usually directed at, but not limited to, other family members, who also yell to prove how right they are. I can say honestly that this can been an extremely hard habit to break, and I am still not completely there yet.
It seems absurd to me though, I am a child of God and desperately want to represent all the good He can bring about in a person who submits to Him. And yet, while trying to be seen as right, my actions can be so very wrong.
How can we be a good example of God’s grace if we are so busy being right, that we forget to be kind?
What is the point of convincing the whole world we are right about something, if we have lost the respect of those we love along the way? None at all!
In this way and others, my fear of mistakes has been showing it’s ugly head in more and more ways since my recent breakthrough. I pray this is the Lord purging it from my nature so I can finally treat others with the respect and kindness I would like to, without this subconscious fear poisoning my reactions. I have had some ridiculous fears in my lifetime, and as I have come to recognise each one in turn I have handed them over into God’s hands. I am so grateful that I can now recognise and confess this deep fear, because He has never let me down, He is faithful to destroy all fear!
I am looking at this fear as a giant boil that has been festering away, growing and infecting me for too long, and now that we have found it Christ can bring it to the surface and remove it from me, just as He has done with all the fears that came before this one.So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Developing faith into every area of life is a gradual process. At the start of our walk with Him we may see many changes quite quickly, however over time I have noticed that it takes a fair bit of digging to get right down to those conditions we didn’t even know have been there all along, generational curses, soul ties, deeply buried pain, and other enemies we may have been exposed to during childhood.
I may have found and confessed my fear, I may be frustrated that it is still coming out of me in ways I don’t find very flattering. However I understand that Christ is the surgeon, if we put our lives and fears in His hands, we can watch as His precise scalpel removes each and every inner enemy, and there are always many of His amazing blessings to reap after recovering from the surgery! Amen!
Praise His Name, I am so grateful to know the love of the Lord!
I have another confession to make…
Deep down I’m petrified!
Of getting it WRONG!
Am I alone in this fear? … I doubt it.
This has been a fear all of my life, although I am only just recently beginning to accept and understand it on a new level. I can get quite defensive if I am accused of doing something wrong, especially when I know I tried my best and someone else assumes I didn’t. I take it as a personal attack, an accusation that I didn’t care enough to try.
This is not to say that I won’t admit when I am wrong, if I see my error first I will be the first to announce it, in fact I run to apologise and correct my err. If I have ever consciously chosen to do the wrong thing I expect to feel remorse and will take my punishment on the chin.
My fear is more that I will be deemed unworthy because of my short-comings, shamed to the point of rejection, rejected to the point of depression. It is those times that come unexpected, those left field errors, the times you thought you got it right and it turns out you got it WRONG! When you realise you have been deceived, by yourself, or by your inner enemies. Times like these I feel the colour drain from my face, my stomach does a flip and heat rises up my neck like a flame, covering my face in beads of sweat. My mind becomes a chaos of thoughts of shame and self-condemnation, justifications and desperation. In some cases tears well in my eyes.
As I mentioned in my last post, somewhere along the road of life I have subconsciously attached being ‘Right’ with being ‘Happy’, and therefore if I am wrong I am doomed to be ashamed and unhappy. Yet most of us understand we must make mistakes in order to learn. I love to learn so I should love making mistakes. Right? Wrong again!
As I’ve gotten older I have made many efforts to tackle this fear, after my car accident I suffered tremendous attacks of anxiety which made my ability to concentrate extremely difficult, if not impossible. I spent 3 years after my car accident, off work and in therapy, trying to recover both physically and mentally. I felt useless, I couldn’t imagine how I could be of any use to an employer or to my family. I needed quite a bit of rehabilitation to help me feel capable of working again, anxiety had me in it’s tight grip and I was sure my constant lack of concentration and focus would cause me to be punished and looked down on, viewed as worthless and perhaps even fired. I couldn’t bare the thought of letting people down, especially not an employer or a loved one.
Therapy and working since then has helped me accept that we all make mistakes, human errors are unavoidable, I needed to learn to give myself a break.
My first job after the accident was with my best friend, she was extremely understanding and supportive. The boss of our department did me the world of good, He never punished his staff for making mistakes, he never made us feel like we had let him down if we didn’t reach perfection, in fact the opposite. He made fun of us in a joking, sarcastic manner, like a friend would, and always took our side against cranky customers. He made us feel we were good enough, even if we had done nothing but make mistakes all day. Lets face it, we have all had days like that..Haven’t we?
My recent breakthrough in therapy, made me aware that I allow this fear to infiltrate my parenting techniques, and I have been making every attempt to undo some of the damage this may have had on my children. It is not easy, I am still afraid, I wonder if I will ever be able to let these attacks slide off my back like water off a duck. (There are some great tips in this post how to prevent a cycle of this fear passing onto our children, also Brené Brown has done some amazing research in this area.)
I thank God so much for the realisation of this deep fear, because it is only when we accept something that we can begin to change it, we can place our fears in His capable hands. Our children deserve to feel good enough even when they make mistakes. We deserve to feel good enough even when we are wrong. Yeshua/Jesus would not have needed to come and suffer such a horrendous ordeal if we were capable of being perfect on our own. Our true happiness doesn’t come from getting it right all the time, it comes from knowing we are always worthy to Him, that He will never reject us, and that we will always be loved by Him.
The theme of my concerns over recent weeks/months/years, has circled my role as a Mum. I have this tremendous fear that my insecure reactions may have already damaged my children’s sense of self worth. How it is especially hard trying to raise them to be healthy, happy and secure, while I am still trying to get myself there. I get angry at myself for falling short, giving them less than they deserve. Tears well up as I confess this, it is extremely difficult to share, so please bear with me. I will try to allow my vulnerability and shame to create something worthwhile here…
I lean heavily into my faith, repeating the mantra, “Don’t Stress, Do your Best, God will take care of the Rest and You’ll be Blessed”. I trust in this, yet I admit my trust wavers, especially when it comes to me doing my best, am I really? While He develops my faith, I pursue healing… I must for their sake and my own.
My children are older now (9 & 16), they are dealing with emotional issues, more than behavioural ones. They are extremely well behaved, and try their best to be so. Recently I watched my reactions as a parent to my children even more closely; I saw how often my desire to teach them sounded as if they were ‘less than’. How my attempts to help them understand happiness made them confused and sad. How my reaction to their unhappiness made them self-conscious and withdrawn.
I broke down…
“How is this still happening?” I thought to myself. After over 6 years of therapy and 13 years of developing faith, I still have not figured out how to stop the cycle of damage and self-loathing which has infected its way throughout my family tree.
I wrote and wrote, I poured out my confessions on every scrap of paper I could lay my hand to. I let the tears fall as I held myself accountable for their growing hearts, which need to be nurtured by a Mum that loves in healing ways, not toxic ones. Yet I had no idea why my love was so poisoned.
Then as usual I withdrew again…. into distractions and a couple of glasses of red.
I had a 2.5 hour session with my therapist the other week, and we spent time figuring out the core of my parenting crisis. It was supposed to be the usual hour, but he knew I needed more time and gave it willingly, bless him.
After many tears shed and much rambling, probably mostly incoherent, we came to a few realisations. Firstly, that I have a list of responsibilities in the forefront of my mind. Fighting for the top spot of that list is my desire to make my children happy, along with being an obedient, self aware, child of God, and a supportive, capable and loving wife etc.
We narrowed in on my role as a Mum, to find out what causes me to react in unhealthy ways rather than healthy ones (besides the general thesis that my reactions spring from a platform of shame and insecurity). We needed to discover the more specific catalyst.
Eventually this catalyst revealed itself to be a connection between being happy and being right. I grew up believing being ‘right’ was the be all and end all. I spent so many early years unhappy for being so very far from ‘right’, believing many lies were truth, that somewhere along the way of realising this I have attached unhappiness with being wrong.
As we dug a little deeper we found that whenever I see a need to correct my children’s behaviour or teach them how to deal with something new, my fear of their unhappiness attaches itself to them being human (not perfect) and my panic causes an emotional reaction. This emotional reaction is more powerful than my words aimed to teach, more powerful than my good intentions. My way of defending against the fear is what shows on my face as I react. My anger at myself for believing those early lies is what shines out, and all they must see is an angry, scared Mum. No wonder it doesn’t work out well. 😦
We also figured out that I seem to be missing a piece of the puzzle, the place of stability that helps gauge which situations are worth getting upset about and which ones can be met with a neutral, unemotional response. In my desperate mission to stop my girls ending up like me, I have been allowing my fear to unconsciously correct their emotions and even their opinions. I cant express in words how ashamed I am. Forgive me Father, Forgive me Girls!
And so now that I have become aware of this in more detail, I must learn to give supportive freedom for them to experience their own emotions and opinions in each situation and not link them to being right or wrong, happy or sad, damaged or healed. Just to simply accept them, for all that they are. The Lord will teach them in life what I cannot, I need to change my focus to be less about teaching them how to not be like I was/am, and more on helping them be who they are. Using Affection, Approval and Acceptance to help them believe they are good enough, that they belong and are loved.
My psych has given me some tips to practice, in order to attempt to undo some of these patterns.
- Sitting face-to-face with them wordlessly, non-judgmentally, soothing the internal dialogue inside me, which drives me to teach them to control and avoid imagined catastrophes.
- Sit and listen without responding so much. (Oh my, that is hard for me at anytime)
- Try not to challenge any opinion they have unless 99% sure that it is incorrect.
- Try not to challenge any emotions they have, merely SHARE the experience with them.
- Try not to let their emotions change my emotions reactively. Wait until I can think neutrally before making decisions. This will teach what my words could not, that emotional manipulation is unfair and unhealthy.
- Before I respond to anything, ask myself this question, “Do I feel good enough or defensive?”, and wait until I feel good enough before I respond.
- Use soft eyes and a low pitch when correcting and teaching.
- Be aware of my fearful reactions during meditation, run through these tips from a calm relaxed place and allow the fear to pass by without being the catalyst for reaction.
This list is not going to be easy for me to apply, but I have been trying and had a few successes. I hope that someone else out there can gain something useful from this post. So that other children don’t have to stay in unhealthy cycles. I ask for your prayers, pray that this is finally the breakthrough I have been waiting years for and that God will reach down His hand and help me walk these new strategies out in my life. That His love will flow through to fulfill my girls when my love is tainted with fear. That my inner enemies will not win out, but will end up in the pit far away from my me and my family. In Yeshua’s Mighty Name I pray. Amen!