Doing Life Together

love-482709_1920Most of us have gone through difficult times with a family member, a loved one, a co-worker or even a boss. Some of you might even be on the brink of losing a relationship. But don’t give up hope. Instead, recognize the signs of trouble and start making changes so that your relationships stay strong.

Right now, think of a relationship that needs a little first aid, and ask yourself, “Is that relationship more positive than negative in your mind? If it is more negative, start to focus on the good qualities of that person, the positives about the person –why you liked the person in the first place. Philippians 4:8 tells us to think on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. Think about such things.

Then add a little empathy. This means try to understand why the person may be acting in ways that might be upsetting. Is the person stressed at work, overwhelmed with responsibility, feeling sick, etc. You aren’t making excuses for the person, just trying to be more understanding. For example, asking your spouse to help you understand why he leaves his socks on the floor, will lead to a different solution than being critical and angry because he leaves socks on the floor. Try to understand why the person is doing what he or she is doing. Then you can negotiate an action step that will improve things for both of you. People are more cooperative and willing to change when they are understood. So, empathy and listening go a long way to improve relationships.

Forgiveness is probably the most important First Aid response to use. I know it can be hard to do in some cases, but again, forgiveness is an act of our will, a choice we can make to not allow unforgiveness and bitterness to clog up our relationship and keep us stuck. Forgiving someone is a choice. It is a gift we give to ourselves and others. We do this because God forgives us and tells us to forgive others as he has forgiven us. Often our emotions take time to catch up with our decision to forgive, but making the choice begins the process of healing.

When trying to revive a relationship, rather than bringing up the past, stay in the present, forgive and move on. Then behave in ways that shows you really did forgive. Doing this, changes the climate of a relationship. Forgiveness goes a long way when it comes to healing hurts.

Finally, remember. When someone is unhappy in a relationship, it is often because they are unhappy with themselves. They might not know what they want or need, but just feel unhappy. In those cases, encourage the person to talk to you or someone else who can help get to the source of their dissatisfaction. Leaving a relationship doesn’t usually fix the problem.

Despite relationship tensions, conflicts and upsets, there is much we can do to make things better. Be intentional. Bring up problems and make every effort to work on creating a healthy relationship. Never give up hope. Even small changes can have a big effect.






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…