It’s not always easy to find people on whom you can depend. We look to family, friends and the church to be dependable. We want them to be true to their word, follow through with commitments and help meet needs during times of difficulty. Unfortunately, these sources let us down. No person, church or family is perfect.
When people or institutions fail us, we can become angry. Then bitterness sets in. Our anger stems from being disappointed. People didn’t come through. Promises made were broken.
Why do we get angry about this lack of dependability that is all around us? Because we chose to rely too much on people and things to bring us happiness. When our trust is in anything other than God, we will be disappointed. People can’t always be there in the ways we would like.
So what do we do? We put our trust in God. We depend on Him to meet our needs and bring us happiness. The story of Joshua in the Old Testament gives us pointers on how to depend on God.
The first chapter of Joshua begins with the Lord telling Joshua that Moses is dead. He tells Joshua to arise. In other words, stop looking to Moses to get you into the Promised Land. Moses is dead and isn’t taking anyone anywhere. Time to get to it yourself.
The Promised Land for many of us is a place free from distress, depression, anxiety and relationship problems. We want to free ourselves from dependency on others. Here’s how to begin:
- Pitch your tabernacle far off from the camp –Ex. 33:7. The presence of God was in the tabernacle. The tabernacle was not close to the camp. Moses had to walk to it. This took effort but the Lord spoke to him face to face. Be inconvenienced and do everything you can to be in God’s presence. You need to find a church that helps you grow. It may not be close to your house. Everything about the church may not suit you. Find a church that equips you spiritually and pitch your tent there.
- Stay in God’s presence. After Moses left the tabernacle, Joshua stayed. When things get tough, don’t give up. Stay in His presence. Even if everyone lets you down, you have the presence of God. Stay there and you will not be disappointed.
- Believe God’s promises are for you. God tells Joshua that no man will be able to stand against him. What a powerful promise. If God is on our side, it doesn’t matter what people do. He will be our avenger. He will get us to the place of rest.
- Follow the commandments and God’s laws. God tells Joshua not to look to the left or right. The message is that no one or thing will save you. Look to God, keep His commandments and He will accomplish His purposes. He will get you to the Promised Land.
- Speak the promises of God. Don’t blame other people for your problems. Learn not to look to others to meet your needs. God makes this promise-I will supply all your needs. Believe it, say it and act as if it is true.
The next time you feel angry with someone for letting you down, look to God to be the one on whom you will depend. He won’t disappoint.
Reader Question: I would say that my husband is a type A (driven, structured) personality and both of our children are more like me, type B (relaxed, easy going). At times, this combination of personalities can be challenging. Do you have suggestions as to how to keep things calm but moving forward in our household?
Your question is really about how opposite temperaments learn to work together. Type A parents usually want their children to achieve and respond quickly to directions and consequences. Type B kids are more creative, laid back and tend to drag their heels on getting things done. Neither style is better than the other, but parents need to find ways to work with kids with opposite temperaments.
So one way to accommodate both styles is to make chores more of a game. For example, instead of ordering a child to empty the dishwasher, set a timer and play beat the clock. The important thing, according to Reginald Richardson of Northwestern University’s Family Institute, is to balance high expectations with warmth and support.
Studies do show that parents who are more authoritarian in their parenting style have kids with fewer behavior problems, higher academic achievement and less depression and anxiety. And eventually, many type B children grow up to see the value of setting goals and accomplishing them. So your husband’s push for order and getting things done should be balanced with fun, encouragement and support. The driven Type A parent has to be careful to show compassion along the way and understand that success can look different for different kids. The danger with pushing too hard is that children begin to feel they aren’t accepted for who they are and learn to conform to your dreams, not theirs. The best thing is to understand your child’s temperament and help him reach his potential and passion, using a balance of pushing and accepting.
Mom. I’m bored.
Isn’t it great. Just feel that boredom.
What? I need something to do!
OK, what do you think that could be?
I don’t know, I’m just bored.
I’m sure you can think of something. And sometimes being bored is OK.
This was my response when my children complained about being bored. It turns out, this wasn’t a bad way to respond. In fact, it was good. Good parents don’t try to fix every feeling. They let their children experience feelings and then help them figure out what to do with those feelings.
So, when children feel a negative feeling like boredom, we parents need to let it happen so they can learn to tolerate these feelings. After all, it won’t be the first or last time they deal with feeling bored. And if mommy or daddy isn’t present to give ideas and fix things, the child manages to figure it out. So adios helicopter parents, it’s time to do what good parents do–stop fixing things and allow your children to work through their own feelings.
This is a necessary life skill. Healthy adults allow their feelings to surface and regulate them.
So how do you do this?
First, don’t minimize a feeling. Don’t deny it and don’t make fun of feelings. Instead, label them. Let’s take anger. Rather than saying, “Don’t be angry Billy,” say “So you are angry.” Once the feeling is validated, focus on what to do with that feeling. In this case, Billy can act out his anger or learn to regulate it. The Bible tells us to be angry but don’t sin. Our parenting job is to help our children acknowledge the anger and then handle it without sinning. Usually, there is a more vulnerable feeling behind the anger like hurt, sadness, rejection, etc. Ask Billy why he is angry–is it because he didn’t get picked for the game, someone said something embarrassing, etc.
Then you can empathize, validate the feeling, and work through it and hopefully get to the more important feeling of being hurt or rejected. No one likes to be left out or made fun of. When that happens, anger is normal. Then, what Billy learns to do with anger matters. He can tell someone, go run, color in a book, play with another friend, etc.
In essence, you are emotionally coaching your child. And regulating feelings is a skill they need for life.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they were ashamed of their nakedness. Sin resulted in fear and hiding and a condemnation of their natural state. Adam and Eve’s new found knowledge of good and evil brought them anxiety in their naked identity. On their own, they tried to cover their nakedness and not feel shame but they failed. Self-hatred begins.
This explains, in part, why we struggle so much in the area of complete body acceptance. Our perceptions are distorted. Like Eve, we tend to listen to the voices all around us who don’t have our best interests in mind. When we take matters into our own hands and try to deal with our distorted perceptions without God, shame and hiding keep us buying more products, taking unhealthy supplements to loose weight, make us willing to go under the knife for risky surgery and more. Shame also distorts the image in the mirror and says to us, “You are inadequate and don’t measure up.”
The good news is that God sees us in our natural state, naked and all. He doesn’t shame us. It’s when we attempt to separate ourselves from God, to live life on our own terms that we feel shame and dislike our bodies. Just like Eve, we are lured away from God by opportunities to personally benefit, by focusing on appearance and by acting solo.
When we try to deal with shame and self-hatred apart from God, we won’t be successful. Our self-deception and self-will are too strong and distort our thinking and influence our behavior. Even if we don’t recognize it, distortion is part of us.
Thankfully, God pursued Adam and Eve in their naked state. Notice he didn’t hide from them but pursued them. I love that about God. We are the ones in hiding, not He. When Adam and Eve were ashamed and trying to hide, they really needed God to take control. Someone bigger had to intervene. And that’s just what happened before they were sent out of the garden to deal with a fallen world. God had them discard the fig leaves and made tunics of skin to clothes them. This is important, not because it was a fashion shift but because of the significance of God clothing them instead of them clothing themselves.
When God clothed them, it’s wasn’t because of shame. It was a covering of protection. Forget the ineffective fig leaves. They were man and woman’s attempt to solve their shame on their own. Skins had significance. They required the shedding of blood. God offered the first blood sacrifice to save Adam and Eve from spiritual death. What an incredible provision and foreshadowing of our need for a personal Savior to keep us from destroying ourselves through our own propensity to hide from God and solve our problems on our own.
When sin entered the picture, Adam and Eve needed a new covering that would calm anxiety and deal with their newfound insecurities. God’s provision to correct our fallen state began. Our designer is capable of covering our distorted perceptions with truth. He does not condemn us or our bodies. He offers grace and love.
We must acknowledge our nakedness before God. Then we must decide who will be allowed to cover us? Our own efforts, spoken words from family members, cultural images—all of which can keep us hiding with feelings of shame and insecurity? Or will we let God’s truth speak to us and listen? Will we let it heal us?
Allowed God to clothe you in his righteousness and truth. Stand naked before him and experience his love that will heal shame. We have a spiritual heritage that makes brings truth to our body, soul and spirit. It’s our choice to stand alone, naked and ashamed or with God’s help, move into body acceptance and learn to accept the beauty of His design.
Adapted from Dr. Mintle’s book, Making Peace with Your Thighs (Thomas Nelson)