Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

anxious womanMegan is a 23-year-old who grew up with a great deal of anxiety about her school performance. Her parents admit, they were too involved and consider themselves helicopter parents.

But now, as Megan is moving into young adulthood, she is highly sensitive to any demand or issue that doesn’t fit her view of life. Her coping skills are lacking.

Megan’s parents look back and think, did we make excuses for hr too often, bail her out when she needed to feel consequences? Did we blame her teachers, rescue her when she felt bad too many times?

These are good questions to ask. Coddled children often become entitled ones. They expect other people to constantly fix their problems. Problems are externalized– due to someone else’s actions versus personal responsibility.

What’s the fix?

Stop coddling and empowering them to be victims. Shielding them from the realities of the world does not help them cope and build resiliency. It it through disagreement, we find out what we believe. It is through working through differences that we learn to get along with others who don’t think and feel as we do. It is often through struggle that we learn to be strong and make corrections in our ways of doing things. Failure is part of building resilience.

Universities are supposed to be places to prepare students for the real world. Instead, we are extending this helicopter parenting to the campuses, creating safe spaces, micro aggressions and demanding students who no longer exercise common sense. Talk to your young adults about this influence and the long term effects of “safe spaces.” Political correctness has run amuck and creating entitled people who can’t cope with life.

So parents, look at your influence now. Tell your children to deal with that difficult teacher, the kid who doesn’t think the same, the neighbor who chides them for bad behavior. Encourage them to work through their own problems. Stop doing for them. Think how you became a problem-solver –no one rescued you from the real world.

Tell your college kids to stop whining and focus on their studies. Question the policies of universities and colleges that are offended by food that is racist (true story!). Parents, we need a hard look as to our contributions to the problem of raising entitled kids. Where we can make a difference now, let’s do it. Stop coddling and rescuing.

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prayerWe couldn’t believe our friend had a massive cancerous tumor at the age of 39. But our church and friends prayed round the clock and believed for his healing so that his three young children could grow up with their dad.

He fought the cancer bravely and the presence of God could be felt. There was a peace, strong faith and persistent prayer on his behalf.

He had been a marathon runner and when he died, he told his wife, he saw Jesus running to him in a field ready to take him home. His death was peaceful. The presence of God was powerful. But we were devastated. We knew God could heal. Why didn’t He answer our prayer? Our faith for his healing couldn’t have been stronger.

Many times in life, we contend with this question, “Does God answer prayer?” It doesn’t always seem like He does. But His perspective is not ours. He knows the big picture, sees how the parts interact with the whole and knows how to use even bad things for good. God does answer prayer, but He can do it in five ways:

1) God answers YES and wonders what took you so long to ask? He is waiting on us to bring our requests to Him. Scripture tells us to ask, to bring our petitions to God (Phil 4:6- Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.. ). God wants us to ask. He’s waiting to answer.

2) God answers YES and blesses even more than we can imagine. Sometimes the answers to prayer feel overwhelming–someone is healed, brought to Christ, restored, etc. This builds our faith and we are thankful that our God answers prayers in a way that seems immediate and responsive to our request. This is why it is important to share our stories of answered prayer with one another–it builds our faith.

3) God answers YES, but not in the way we expect. Prayer wasn’t answered in  a way we understand or even how we thought it should go. Because the answer doesn’t come in the way we expect,this requires our trust. When my friend wasn’t healed and died, it felt like unanswered prayer, but we can’t go by feelings. We trust Him that He knows best. It isn’t that He didn’t hear, He didn’t do what we said the way we presented it.

4) God answers NO because He loves us  too much. It’s not that God doesn’t hear us, but He has the whole picture and knows what is best. This again requires faith and trust in our Father who is for us, not against us. Many times I can look back at a direction I thought best and prayed for, and then was so thankful that God knew best and didn’t answer me the way I presented.

5) No, not yet. The  timing is not what we anticipate so it feels like a giant NO. I learned this through dealing with 7 years of infertility. But when God answered, it was right and better than I could have anticipated. His timing may not feel perfect, but it is. And when it feels like God takes too long, we don’t understand the way He is orchestrating everything behind the scenes so we have to trust.

Our job is to pray and God’s is to be God–answer in the way He sees is best for our lives. Approaching God this way doesn’t put Him in a box and make you His puppeteer. Instead, we believe God to champion us in the way He knows best.

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Child HalloweenQuestion: I was shocked the other day when I was playing in the park with my son. He is three-years-old and fell off the monkey bars. When he did, he swore. I could not believe it. I admit that when my husband and I get mad or upset, foul language does come out of our mouths. We are working on cleaning up our talk. Both of us grew up hearing swearing on a regular basis. How should I have responded to my son’s words?

Answer: According to a study by psychology professor Timothy Jay at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, the rise in adult vulgarity is being mimicked by children and teens. Jay says that swearing really takes off between ages three and four. The reason for the rise in children who swear has everything to do with adults who swear at home.

According to Jay, cursing is a form of coping, a way to reduce stress and vent anger. Adults who have rules against children swearing, but do so themselves, can expect children to model what they hear, not do what they are told. Also, neuroscience confirms that swearing becomes embedded in the brain and is hard to remove. This may be due to the emotional component involved that processes swear words differently.

So next time you hear your son curse, follow these guidelines

1. Stay calm and do not laugh or react with horror. He does not know what he is saying, but your strong reaction in either direction will reinforce him doing it again.
2. Set a good example. Do not swear. Control your own mouth.
3. If you slip, back track the word and say something like, “Fiddlesticks” or “Sugar” and say it with emotion.
4. For older children, set boundaries and rules for language in the home. Discuss why swearing is offensive, what the Bible has to say about the power of the tongue and the intent of the heart (Ephesians 4:29; James 3:6; Proverbs 15:4)
5. For older kids, have consequences for cursing.

Bottom line, cursing is not a good way to represent Christ to a broken world. It is important to look at your heart because Scripture tells us that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). Parents, you set the example!

 

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Many years ago, singer Bette Midler recorded a hit song with the lyric that God is watching us from a distance. God exists, but He is impersonal-Up in the sky, not really involved in our lives. There are many who believe God exists, but don’t know Him. One reason for this has to do with our beliefs about who God is.

Our families are a basic source of learning about God, but can be major sources of distortion when it comes to understanding who God is. Families are supposed to love unconditionally. They are supposed to protect us and never let us down. In reality they fail us at times. Then we look to other people to love us unconditionally. We hope our friends, the church, fellow Christians will show us love, but we are often disappointed in those relationships as well. When this happens we transfer our views of failed love onto God. God gets all the negative attributes and then doesn’t look so appealing either. Consequently, we look to other sources, places to be affirmed, to know who we are.

Some of you have dads you don’t really know. You know he is your dad, but you don’t really know him. He may be absent, uninterested, distant, emotionally cut off, self-absorbed, critical, shaming, perfectionisitic, violent or even abusive. Because we tend to transfer our feelings about earthly parents onto God the Father, we may not want to know God. We may prefer to keep him distant. Intimacy, as we know it, is too painful.

Yet, the avoidance of intimacy prevents us from the healing love of God. In order to correct our ideas about God, we have to spend time with Him (through prayer) and get to know Him (through the written Word). He’s waiting for you to take the necessary steps–To open up, to be vulnerable, to seek Him, to trust. The difference is, He will not disappoint. What other relationship provides such a guarantee?

John 14:9 says, Have I been so long with you and yet hast thou not known me? Unlike families and others, God will never reject or abandon. Nothing can separate us from His love. We can depend on His love. And even though we don’t deserve such love, He gave it anyway. Once you understand this and believe it, it will change your life. Your self-esteem, your security rests on being loved. No matter what you have done, you are loved.

It’s not enough to believe God exists. God is personal, relational and desires intimacy with you. Out of that intimacy comes identity, security, unconditional love, grace, and peace. Don’t allow your earthly relationships to prevent you from knowing God. Take a leap of faith and explore this God who exists, but also desires to be known.

 

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