Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

people-1013546_1920Trouble comes and we often feel alone, even abandoned. Because of a crisis, we may feel as if there is no one who can understand us or help us through a painful time. And if we grew up in a family in which feelings of abandonment are easily triggered, we can become depressed and anxious. Emotionally, we can feel orphaned. Who is there to help or comfort us?

If you feel that sense of abandonment, you never have to be alone. When you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior, He indwells you through His Holy Spirit.

Consider this, when Jesus walked the earth with His disciples, they were sad that He would soon leave them. They couldn’t imagine life without His physical presence. But Christ told them what would happen. He would leave them in order for the Holy Spirit to come. His Spirit would always be with them. Their access to God would be even better: immediate and constant (John 14).

When trouble comes into our life, the enemy of our soul tries to discourage us by telling us we are all alone; there is no one who cares or who can help us through this time. Fear grips our heart and anxiety is born. But Jesus wants us to remember that this is a lie. He is always with us and promises to be our peace, our anchor in the time of storm.

So when we face opposition, hatred, persecution, or suffering and we have no peace, remember that God indwells you and promises His peace in the midst of the storm. The disciples learned this when they were in a boat with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. A hurricane-like storm was tossing their boat to the point that they were frightened for their lives. Jesus was in the boat, but asleep. In a state of panic, they awakened Christ. Did they not think Jesus knew what was happening?

Jesus rebuked the wind and said, “Peace, be still.” His presence and command over all things including the wind brought peace to that boat and to the disciples.

The lesson: Jesus is always aware of our circumstances and our struggles. We have an advocate and counselor who reminds us that he abides in us and brings peace to our personal storms. His continual presence means that we are never alone.

John 14:26 – But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 

 

 

desperate-2100307_1920We tend to think that having high expectations for ourselves or even other people is a good thing, but is it?

John always wanted to go to medical school, but felt like no one ever guided him towards that goal. So when he saw his daughter do well in biology and chemistry, he decided to push her to do her best. She, he believed, would have the chance to go to medical school if he pushed hard enough.

But all his pushing actually backfired. His daughter became depressed and driven by fear of failure. Instead of doing well, she started procrastinating, missing deadlines, and did poorly in school. Eventually, she developed an eating disorder.

In talking with a therapist, John learned that he overdid it. His expectations were too high. His daughter felt afraid to make mistakes and engaged in self-blame whenever she wasn’t perfect.

The therapist suggest he take a step back, recalibrate and offer his daughter a little grace. His pushing was causing her to resent him. She may be good in the sciences, but if she lived with a fear of failure and a need to be perfect to be loved, this wasn’t good. And, she would learn that she had to earn her father’s love.

The question we should all ask when it comes to high expectations is, are we pushing too hard? Are our expectations causing others to fear failure, be self-critical and maybe even depressed or anxious? Do we need to make adjustments in our thinking?

We don’t want to push so hard that we cause damage to our relationships and to the sense of self-esteem in others. Instead, we need to make our expectations realistic and celebrate modest accomplishments once in awhile. Take the pressure off and provide grace for yourself and those around you shooting for a goal.

Lower those expectations to a realistic level.It’s good to have drive, but when that drive is excessive and causing a person distress, it’s not helpful.

 

angry-2191104_1920Why do we get so angry at our moms? Is it because we know we can and they won’t leave us? Is it because we are too much alike? Or is it because it is such an intimate, important relationship that we have lots of expectations?

Have you ever said or thought, “I love my mom but…?” “But.. I get so angry with her. But…I loose control. But…I’m always arguing with her. But…she drives me crazy!”

If so, you are in good company. It’s that lingering “but” that stirs up intense emotion.

Well don’t despair. Whether your relationship with your mom is good, bad or ugly, there are things you can do to strengthen this important connection and bring peace to your relationship.

Anger is one of those emotions that seems to rear its ugly head too often in mother-child relationship. Why is that, and what can we do to prevent ourselves from becoming emotional wrecks, or stop feeling like we are ten years old when we are with her? I answer these questions in my book, I love my mother but…

The emotional intensity between mother and daughter is an amazing and complex force. Often our anger is related to unmet expectations and ideals. When our expectations come head to head with reality, we experience loss, “How could she…? Why would she…? I can’t believe she…!”

One of the emotions that tags along with this let down is anger. If we aren’t careful, we can become stuck in that anger. Our task as adult daughters is to learn to accept disappointments  associated with unmet needs or unrealistic expectations, acknowledge them and even grieve then at times, and then move forward.

How do we do that? We choose to accept the reality that our mothers are fallible. Moving on may require forgiving her, adjusting our expectations, or simply coming to grips with the fact that we all make mistakes.

In some cases, moving forward may even require a new awareness that mom has areas of woundings and hurts she has yet to face. Her own unresolved pain may still affect us. And while we can’t force another person (in this case, mom) to confront her pain and deal with it, we can control our reaction to it. Her pain doesn’t have to control or define us once we discern which issues are hers versus ours.

If you are trying to control your angry reactions to your mother, don’t give up.

Most of us want to be grown ups and handle our emotions in a mature way. Sometimes that requires us to look to the past before we can manage our present emotions. If you and your mom have a number of unresolved issues from the past, they will follow you into the present.

It may be that your anger is being triggered from past hurts that you’ve yet to discuss or work through with her. If this is the case, you have two choices: 1) Choose to forgive her for past hurts and stop holding on to those issue. 2) Confront the issues and try to make peace. Keep in mind that it takes one person to forgive (you) and two people to reconcile (you and your mom). So if your mother won’t confront an issue, is in denial about it or refuses to address it, forgiveness is as far as you can go. That’s OK because it will move you out of that angry place.

Regardless of how we perceive our mothers, or what reality may be for us, we are challenged to imitate Christ in everything we do. To love as Christ loved often requires amazing grace and liberal use of forgiveness.

Women often say to me, “She’s the mom. She should be the first to forgive.” My response is usually, “Only children fight about who goes first! You forgive first and release your anger to God. Be like Christ. Don’t wait for someone else to do the right thing first. You take the lead because of Christ in you.”

If you want to rid yourself of anger, remember these six points:

1) Your mother isn’t perfect and never will be.

2) She made mistakes that may require your forgiveness.

3) Try being more empathetic. It wasn’t easy raising you.

4) Try to understand her better as a person–did things happen in her life that influence how she reacts to you.

5)Try to work on unresolved past hurts. You may need the help of a therapist.

6) You can’t change her, but you can change your response to her. Take a deep breath, calm down, be slow to anger and look to God to meet your every need.

For more help with mother-daughter relationships, check out Dr. Linda’s book, I Love My Mother But…

sad-659422_1920No one likes to be out of control and feel vulnerable. In a moment, our lives can be changed through no action of our own. Things happen.

Most of us have personal stories of loss and suffering. They may involve a stepfather who was sexually abusive; a mom who died from breast cancer; parents who divorced; a father jailed on drug charges; a depressed mother unable to care for her children; abandonment; chronic illness; rape; or domestic violence. Loss, suffering and trauma occur daily in our fallen world-not something we want to think about.

But suffering is a universal experience. Jesus wept when His friend Lazaras died. Jesus too suffered pain that led to death. We don’t know why good people suffer, we simply know how to respond to suffering and what God has to say about it. In order to cope with loss and trauma we need to:

  • Grieve and mourn. Confronting the intense array of emotions that accompanies grief is not easy, but God’s promise is that we will be comforted (Matthew 5:4). The feelings of shock, anger, depression, bargaining must be experienced rather than avoided. Ask God to give you the grace to work through these emotions. Joy will come in the morning.
  • Share your loss. Grief must be shared. Healing often comes in telling the story. Jesus wept with his friends Mary and Martha over the loss of their brother.
  • Accept support. You need the support of family and friends. Don’t isolate yourself. Allow other people to serve you in your time of need.
  • If the loss or suffering involves forgiveness, do it. Don’t get stuck in grief because of unforgiveness. Eventually, bitterness will develop. Forgiveness is necessary to heal. Give it to those who have hurt you even if they don’t deserve it. Remember God forgives you when you don’t deserve it.
  • Read scriptures on suffering and loss. To quote Twila Paris and her powerful song, “God is in control”. Nothing happens away from His watchful eye. When you are His, there are several reassuring promises. He’ll walk with you through the valleys and He promises His presence.

–We are troubled, perplexed, persecuted but not destroyed (2Corinthians 4:8-9).

–The righteous have many afflictions but the Lord delivers us from them all (Psalm 34:19)

–Count it all joy because it is the trying of your faith and will bring patience (James 1:2-4)

–All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)

–Sorrow and mourning will disappear and be replaced with gladness and joy (Isaiah 51:11).

–Rest will come when we give the burden to the Lord (Matthew 11:28-30).