Calling the Monsters Out

We sat around a beautiful hardwood dining room table.

Six of us with stomachs stuffed full of egg casserole, muffins, and fruit. A vase of flowers and a tempting dish of m&ms remained on the table. Our china cups recently refilled with fresh coffee. We met like this monthly, each woman sharing updates on the progress—or lack thereof—of her children.

0410 brooke-lark-96402photo courtesy of Brooke Lark @ Unsplash

One mom shared of the ways her near-adult son was taking advantage of her and her husband’s generosity. Disrespecting. Deceiving. Demanding. Where should she draw the line? How could she protect her sanity while trying to keep peace in the home? What should she do about her husband who continuously gave in to the demands?

I finally asked her,

What is it you fear the most?

Continue reading “Calling the Monsters Out”

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Humility for a Heart Enslaved by Pride

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I hid in my room, swiveling in my cushy orange rocker. Lord, is this pride I’m battling? Do I really need to apologize or was my firmness called for? Am I being selfish or do I have good reason to draw lines?

I remembered a question from some sermon from my youth. “Do you know what the middle letter is in the word pride? I. Pride is when I am at the center.” A good point. Obviously, one that had stuck with me. But, was it accurate? What mom has any pride left? I mean really! Our dignity vanished rather soon in the process.

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I spent many evenings sitting in my sanity rocker, trying to sort through this. Maybe earlier in the day I had exploded at a child. Maybe I had stood my ground and said, “No you may not come into my room … share my cookie … or look in my purse.”

It’s such a fine balance, isn’t it, between selfishness and self-preservation … between pride and protection? How do you discern when you’re sinning or when you’re actually drawing wise boundaries?

It’s no easy answer. And every woman answers this differently. These are some ways I learned to evaluate my motives:

Know yourself—your limits. What’s going to tip you over the edge? What could have a negative impact on your health? What’s going to prove worse for the family in the end?

Know your kids. Are your boundaries for their best in the long run? Does saying no teach them restraint? Does saying yes teach them indulgence?

Talk to someone who knows you and your kids. My husband rarely got wrapped up in the emotional turmoil I experienced. He supported me completely while maintaining an objective perspective. Frankly, most of the time he could see that the boundaries were crucial. If he wasn’t available, I had other adoptive moms I could ask.

The bottom line is be very real with yourself and with the Lord. That means don’t be afraid. I think what got in the way of me being able to discern my motives was fear I was messing up in a big way. I didn’t want to apologize because I was afraid it meant I was a horrible person. I didn’t want to take an honest look at pride because I was afraid it meant I would have to become a doormat to my kids. So much of my anguish was wrapped up in fear instead of freedom.

It took years for me to realize that pride is mostly likely driven by fear. In fact, what appears to be pride usually is fear. I actually found relief in this. Pride was a confusing animal to confront. But fear? I knew what to do with that.

You see, we have a Savior who defeated all our enemies. We have a Father who welcomes us into His safe embrace. We have His word that said 365 times (literally) fear not.

Whatever it is we fear becomes our master. So what are you a slave to today? You know we have a choice? We can surrender to our fears and let pride claim our hearts. Or, we can surrender to the Lord and let His peace and purposes reign.

Surrender to God. Isn’t that what humility really is? Humility isn’t groveling, or laying down as a doormat. No, humility is surrendering to the Lordship of Christ.

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It begins with trusting in His perfect, loving will so we can listen to the Holy Spirit. Humility, then, allows us to obey from a position of security, confidence, and freedom.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.… Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:7,8, and 10, NIV)

Safety for a Heart Scared Senseless

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He wasn’t very big. In fact, some people questioned his true age. But I was still afraid of him.

I was afraid too often as a mom. Not that my kids would physically hurt me—though some were capable, and we did have a few scary moments.* No, I more feared something it took years for me to articulate. I feared losing my sense of meaning—the threat that even at my best, I didn’t matter.

I’ve found this to be a common fear among SAFE moms. For many of us, being a mom is the core of who we are. Serving mouth-watering nutritious meals, kissing booboos, reading bedtime stories, camping under fir trees, cheering at soccer games, crying at graduations, and dishing out epic words of wisdom—these are the things mothers are made of. Right? We anticipated disobedience, turned up noses at peas on the plate, and sibling fights over toys. And we planned strategies for dealing with such childhood issues.

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But we weren’t prepared for the vehement denial of our role, the stiff-arming of our attempts to embrace, and the crushing of our precious love offerings. For some reason, our husbands did not experience this fear at all. They couldn’t grasp why we seemed to take our children’s attitudes so personally.

Because I often operated out of deep fear, I opened the door to more. I was afraid I would be overrun by rebellion—in fact, I frequently had nightmares about this. I was afraid of failing. I feared what others thought and often felt misjudged. I was afraid of having to pay for my kids’ consequences the rest of my life. And I was afraid something awful would happen and I’d carry guilt the rest of my life.

When I attended a course that had me identify my greatest fear, it came down to fear of engulfment. And you know what I discovered? The root of that fear, of all things, was asthma as a child. Can you believe that? The real cause of my fear actually had nothing to do with my kids at all!

In fact when we take an honest look, all fear is rooted in some past pain. Otherwise, how would we know to be afraid? And if we’re brave enough to get really, really honest, we’ll discover the one we hold responsible for that pain is … God!

Ouch! Yes, we don’t trust God with our pain and then we try to control things so that we never experience that kind of pain ever again. When the slightest hint of a similar pain whispers to our subconsciousness, fear rises up like Godzilla out of the sea of unreasonableness.

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So, then, how do we send this fear monster packing?

  • First, we need to forgive God. No, He didn’t sin, but some sneaky enemy of our soul has convinced our sub-conscience that He did. So, try it. Tell God you forgive Him for the pain in your life and ask His help to restore your trust in Him.
  • The second suggestion is to consider professional help. Never minimize past pain that continues to hold you captive. Many of us have experienced trauma that requires professional guidance in order to break free of fear’s stranglehold.
  • The third remedy is found in 1 John 4:18, Perfect love cast out fear. Ask God to lead you on a discovery of His perfect love for you. You see, when we are immersed in God’s perfect loving embrace, there is no room—at all—for fear.

With that in mind, fear then can become our friend. Fear is the red flag, reminding us we have wandered outside the safety of God’s perfect loving embrace. Fear is waving it’s arm, shouting, “You’re headed toward Godzilla’s quagmire! Turn around! Run back to the safety of the Father’s infinite love!”

*An important note, some of my friends’ kids posed serious threats to family members and pets. This is nothing I take lightly. My friends weren’t ranting paranoids. I had many SAFE moms visit my home and look surprised when they saw our kitchen knives displayed on the wall, because they had to keep theirs locked away. Some had to have safety plans in place. One friend is now hiding from her estranged child in a government-approved safe house.

#write31days #warmthforaheartgrowncold