Some time ago, I had a conversation with a couple men about why people don't go to church. There was quite a list, and then they revealed their personal reasons. Both had church going wives, but they didn't attend.
"I spend all week with difficult people. I'm peopled out on Sunday."
"Organized religion is filled with hypocrites. Church should help people, but instead they are judgmental and just after money. There's no humility."
In truth, both of these men have been deceived. Each believes it does no good to go and does no harm to not go. They've been convinced of the lie that this decision somehow serves them. In truth, they aren't benefiting, but being deprived. Deprived of the growth, development, respect and blessing God has for them in being the strength, the warriors, the brave men they were intended to be. Their wives are sent without their champions into an arena these men dare not enter.
This deception deprives the men, their wives and their daughters. They set in motion a family tradition of men denying their role as leader, as a strong one. Instead of receiving their inner strength and validation from the God who created them with those attributes, they settle for shallow validations. Validations from their careers, political opinions, and appreciation from their wives and family are just a few.
In truth, they abdicate their throne and leave it to God and other men to champion their wives and children. Men who aren't afraid to enter the church, to grow, to challenge themselves, to be adventurers, and willing to carry the weight of providing spiritual nourishment to their hungry wives. On Sunday mornings all across this country, those hungry wives set out alone as their providers sleep on Sunday morning.
The biggest deception the enemy manages to pull off is convincing men that this "choice" has been made from a strong determined will and the wives and children are similarly convinced. In actuality, our emperors are wearing no clothes.
But women are not defenseless. God is our champion, defender, bridegroom. He stands with our lonely hearts and fills them as we stand in a pew filled with couples He nurtures, cares, strengthens and protects us. He is a lover to our soul, capable of intimacy beyond any human being. After the disappointment of going to church alone joins our comfy homes and sleepy husbands in our rear view mirrors... we feel genuine sorrow that our champions snore through the epic adventure of their lives.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Friday, May 4, 2012
It may be the best gifts for your family this Mother's Day are given by Mom.
- Room To Breathe and Grow. It's been our job to protect them with baby gates and bicycle helmets. During the teen years, words became our safety tools as we set boundaries and explained consequences. They become adults and the consequences are more serious. We panick that we haven't dispensed wisdom to fit every situation. We offer unsolicited advice in every conversation. There's no air in the room as we press our suggestions onto their lives. Wisdom is born of trial and error. A lecture isn't a shortcut. Your daughter needs to try it her way, sometimes making mistakes. It's the only way for her to experience growth of her own.
- A Mom Without A God Complex. My mother once told me, “Your children have a higher power and it isn't you!” During their childhoods, we bandage boo boos, feed hungry bellies, and buy new shoes when they ruin theirs in mud. This cannot continue throughout their adult lives. We can't fix everything, nor can we absorb the pain of a car repair bill, a kid with the flu or the boss laying them off. Learning to roll with the punches reveals that normal trials and difficulties aren't injustices. If you're losing sleep because your son is overwhelmed, you've crossed a line. You believe you're responsible for how everything impacts him. Chances are you've passed this misconception on and he believes it's your fault when he's miserable.
- An Example. Do you want your daughter to value her unique abilities? Respect and develop your own. Do you want your son to respect women? Maintain healthy boundaries with the men in your life. Do you want your children to be authentic and avoid the manipulation of codependent relationships? Take inventory of your own mental health with the help of a competent counselor. If your family has a common unhealthy habit, seeking advice from one another is rarely going to produce a revelation. Obtain the tools necessary to live a healthy life instead of sinking comfortably into family-wide dysfunction. Learn to live healthy, so they have an example to follow.
- Freedom From Manipulation. Guilt and shame are often used to get a desired response from adult children. You may be able to guilt trip your son into dragging his family to weekly Sunday dinners, or doing holidays your way. The result will be resentment. It may be spoken, or it may fester quietly within him, and his wife. Loosen your grip and allow him to make his own family traditions. Be open to conversations that lessen the pressure to do what you want. You may find him rediscovering the pleasure of your relationship instead of reconciling himself to constant obligation.
- Love the Spouse. Our kids aren't our clones. Your son knows the woman he fell in love with in ways you don't. Your daughter sees strengths in her husband you may never see. If you don't support your son's commitment to his wife and family, nothing good will come of it. You'll be a source of contention in the marriage, or you'll find yourself brokenhearted when your daughter-in-law doesn't trust you with the grandchildren. You taught your children to be loyal – don't make them choose between two people they love. This is especially important in an unhealthy relationship. Recognize when your advice begins alienating your child and back off! Ensure you will be there when she needs you to see her through a painful breakup.
- Humility. Motherhood is the most important job we'll ever have. You can't just quit and get new children. Your mistakes stay in your employee file, i.e., your child's memory. In this culture, we analyze our childhoods as never before. You try your best, make sacrifices for your children, and still find yourself being judged harshly. It hurts. We get defensive. Our apologies carry excuses or accusations of oversensitivity.
We say, “I'm sorry I forgot to pick you up after soccer practice, but I was stressed out and had a lot on my mind.” Instead of, “I'm sorry I forgot to pick you up that day. I'm still embarrassed by that.” Be truthful; an insincere apology is easily seen through. Put your pride aside. It's another opportunity to set an example.
A little forgiveness for your own mother wouldn't hurt either.