Worry Leads to…Faith?? What?!

*note to whomever may be concerned*- My kids are only allowed to read select entries on this here blog o’ mine. For reasons which will probably become clear very shortly, this is not one of them. *end note to concerned parties*

I need to get this out and then quit worrying about it. Because worrying serves no greater good. Besides, it won’t change anything anyway.

Matthew has been really doing the behavior problem thing the last 2-3 weeks. Or more. Or whatever. He’ll do ok for awhile, and then get worse.

I am SO trying to be a better wife and mom. Granted I’m well aware I can’t do it on my own, so I’ve been praying and asking God to help me do better and be better for awhile now. A long, long while. More than just a few weeks, let’s say. Anyhow. I only offer that up because I want to be clear that I know I can’t do anything without the Lord’s help. I know I am nothing without Him. I know it, and so while I am trying to do and say the right things more often, I know that any and all change in me comes from Him. All good things come from Him, after all.

So I’m trying to figure out what I am still not learning here…

I’ve been working consciously on building Mike up for his own benefit and also the kids. What I mean is I’ve been trying to work at making an effort to voice that he is in charge around here, that what he says goes, that he makes the decisions, etc….AND that I will stick by them. Not just so he will know I will follow him and be better at trusting and obeying, but also so the kids will see that AND will start following and obeying as well.

So basically, in a nutshell, I’m really working at trying to get our home and family in line with what God wants for us. Part of that is absolutely stepping back and waiting and praying for Mike to step up and take over in certain areas. Part of that is also recognizing (and acting in accord to) the fact that it’s not my job to line everything up, but God’s. That HE is in charge and that HE will get things re-aligned and fixed. In fact, HE is the only One who can. I can’t do it. It’s going to take God.

At the same time, though, I can’t just sit back and do absolutely nothing to help. I can’t just sit by and change nothing. Why not? Because that’s not right. God doesn’t want me to do that, either. I AM supposed to help…in a sense. What I mean is, there are things that *I* need to change, or that I can change. My attitude, my talk patterns, my actions and reactions, etc. Those are the things God has put me in charge of re-aligning (with His help, of course!)

Those are the things I am speaking of when I say I am trying so hard to get our home and family in line with what God wants. I don’t mean that I am trying to take over for God…or my husband. Completely the opposite, in fact.

The nuts and bolts, nitty gritty, day-to-day, practical ways of making the change I need to make and of doing my part is where I am needing the help and seem to be getting confused or at the very least worrying far too much. Here’s the most recent stupid worry. It has to do with Matthew (knew we’d get back to that, didn’t ya?)

God says in the bible, “Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” (Ephesians 6:1) and “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 5:16)

These are the two verses our pastor pointed out to Matthew tonight when he talked to him after church. I had mentioned to our pastor’s wife that we wouldn’t be going to ladies visitation tomorrow because Matthew seems to think it’s fun and games and he can act however poorly he wants and then still get what he wants (fun and games) anyway, so we wouldn’t be going. Well, she asked how he’d been (this is not a new topic or problem or whatever…), so I filled her in SUPER briefly, and she suggested the pastor talk to him again. (I told you it wasn’t a new thing….*sigh*)

Pastor also told him that we reap what we sow, so if he didn’t straighten up he might very well go on to be an adult with lots of problems (uh, yeah, like JAIL!) and with kids who don’t obey him, and then asked him if he’d like that. Of course not, he says. So basically the talk was going beautifully…truly…except…I suddenly felt picked at and blamed.

Oh why, oh why does this bother me so? Easy. Because it’s oh-so-true. If you knew me before about age 18 you wouldn’t bother to ask.

“Honor thy father and thy mother” meant nothing to me growing up…except of course as something written in some obscure fairytale book somewhere that my mom or dad would occasionally “throw in my face”. (That was my attitude…not proud of it, but there it is.) I remember my (step)dad telling me a couple of times in the heat of the moment sotospeak that if people didn’t, they died. Or at least it went something like that. That was the way I heard it and remembered it, but it TOTALLY came across to me like something he was making up to scare me, and by golly I wasn’t going to be scared by the likes of him. Wasn’t I a regular peach?

So you can imagine my surprise when years later I actually read the actual, real live words and saw what it actually said.

Now. I tend to overdramatize and ummmm, well, worry about everything. It’s a fault. Totally. I’m way too intense. In a not-good way. It can be a good thing, but mostly I don’t have practice with that yet…mostly I’m good at using this intensity to totally freak myself out and wear myself down…or else drive everyone else around me as batty as I am!

Ok, now think about that for a minute. Can you see where I’m headed? No? Ok, I’ll spell it out. My stupid intensity drives me to hyper-focus on this: “YOU WERE A PUNK TOWARDS YOUR PARENTS. YOU TOTALLY DID NOT OBEY THEM. YOU TOTALLY REBELLED AS OFTEN AND AS HARD AS YOU COULD. YOU GREW UP AND NOW HAVE A KID WHO WILL TOTALLY NEVER OBEY YOU EITHER. AND ALSO? NOW YOU WILL DIE. AND ALSO? THAT MEANS YOUR KID WILL DIE YOUNG TOO CAUSE HE WON’T OBEY AND SO BASICALLY? YOUR WHOLE LINEAGE IS TOTALLY DOOMED AND IT’S SO TOTALLY YOUR FAULT AND YOU SCREWED UP AND IT’S TOO LATE YOU CAN’T FIX IT AND ALSO? YOU ARE AS GOOD AS DEAD, EVEN IF THERE MIGHT BE HOPE FOR YOUR KIDS. BASICALLY? YOU SCREWED YOURSELF OUT OF BEING ALLOWED TO WATCH YOUR KIDS GROW UP AND SO FORTH.”

There. I said it. THAT is what started pumping through my stupid hyper-focusing, over-dramatizing, worry-wart, melancholic, intense, probably even depressed possibly even because of an actual medical problem mind. And oh? Also, that whole medical problem thing? Totally feeds into the whole freak-out thing, because, well…DUH! If I’m SICK in any way, doesn’t that just prove the whole I’m dying thing?

WHAT is it I’m not learning yet? There’s something there. Cause see, the thing is I know that I am forgiven. Period. Done deal. I know that we all (forgiven or not) have to deal with unpleasant side-effects of consequences of our sins and transgressions. Understood. Obvious, even. Otherwise after salvation no child (or adult) would ever feel pain or suffer ill effects after touching something hot even after being told not to. (Disobedience=sin) At the same time, though, we can be forgiven for disobeying.

I disobeyed. Repeatedly. I still do. Because I am a sinner, saved by grace, but still a sinner. I mess up. Repeatedly. I am forgiven, though. And I am trying to learn and do better as I know better. (Ever heard that?… We do what we know and when we know better, we do better…?? Where did I hear that? It is so true!)

I came home feeling all kinds of defeated and at fault and to blame. I still do, kinda. That’s just the truth. Why?? I mean should I? I think not, but I can’t seem to find a reason not to. Besides these that is….

  • I am forgiven
  • Jesus said He came not to condemn but to bring life and that more abundantly
  • God promises to help us, this would include raising our kids
  • all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord
  • I am not the only influence on my kids, not to mention I don’t physically move their arms to throw the shoes at myself, so it logically can’t be all my fault
  • I am trying to do better as I know better and I’m trying to know better by learning. Because that’s what God says I should do…learn better so I can know better so I can do better.
  • I’m not the only person on the planet. By this I mean, while I was and AM a wretched sinner, I’m NOT the only one, so I’m not the only one who has helped mold this kid. How backwards prideful would that be to think I was…which in a sense is what I start doing…trying to take on all the responsibilities and failures and sins of others around me.
  • Along the same lines…I’m not the only rebellious kid/teen in the world either. I was wrong, yes. God would be just in ‘taking me out’ right now, yes. I’m not the only one who has gone on to be saved and try and change their ways and live for God, either. Could God end my life rightnow? Yes. Would He be just to do so? Sure! Will He? Only He knows and THAT is where I need to leave it. He doesn’t specify what “that thy days may be prolonged” means. I’m not so special that I would be the only born-again rebellious teen to live past 30, but I’m not so special that my rebellious, dishonoring years were so much worse than other people’s either. So it’s actually prideful of me to think that regardless of whether or not there are other people out there who totally blew the whole ‘honor thy father and mother’ thing and then got saved and saw how awful that was and repented of it and went on to live as God-fearing Christians into their 60s or 70s or whatever, I am WAY worse and so must die way sooner. Backwards pride, maybe, but that’s still what it is.

Soooo… my part. Gotta figure out my part, my role, my job, my duty, my responsibility…and do that, and that only. Don’t take on other parts, roles, jobs, duties, responsibilities, etc. And also? Don’t WORRY about those of other’s. That might even be the bigger task. This is where the hubby comes back in. (You thought I’d forgotten all about that train of thought, huh? NOPE!)

I’ve been totally trying to get across (for a super long time) to Mike that I NEED his help with the kids…Matthew in particular. Meagan is not headed for jail or a cathouse. (I don’t think!) Matthew? I’m not so sure. =/ Meagan and I do not have a real close relationship as I’d like for us to have, and that bothers me, and she’s far from perfect, but I’m not worried about her turning out a horrible person. Matthew? I’m outta my league. I absolutely don’t know what else to do to get through to him. The only way I can get him to get back in the house during one of his tirades is to threaten to call the cops. Yes, we spank. Oh yes. And yes I’ve done that…and time-outs, groundings, sentence writing, rewards for GOOD behavior, incentive, etc. I’ve tried everything I know to try and then some with this kid. Again and again and again.

I’ve come to the conclusion over the last 2-3 years that the biggest problem in my techniques is that they’re MINE. That is…it’s me, mom. He’s him, a boy child. Yes, I think that does make a difference. Yes, gender does play a role in raising children and disciplining them. At least to a certain extent. Even those who are all about equality between the sexes and letting little Johnny have a doll and Sally have a toy gun agree that it’s a good thing for a young boy to have a good male role model. THIS is what I mean.

Now I’m not saying Matthew doesn’t have one. What I’m saying is this: I have come to the conclusion that one of the biggest things missing is discipline from a man. Someone other than mom. Mom can’t be a one-mom show. Mom’s been trying that. Doing that for years now. AND I SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN! God didn’t say for me to. In fact it’s wrong for me to do that, but I’ve been doing it just the same. =( I kinda took over, see. I assumed I knew better than Mike about how to raise kids (my little brothers were my experience I figured…and Mike had never really been around any) and so each new thing kinda became MINE to do.

I fed them. I changed them. I bathed them. I burped them. I dressed them. I shopped for them. I taught them. I disciplined them. Mike? Mostly he left it all to me. Not totally his fault, either, let me tell you! I was horrible about telling him he was doing stuff wrong or making him feel stupid for not knowing _____. I’m still working on fixing this, by the way. I’m NOT perfect…did I mention that?

So, I’ve been trying to bite back my prideful, controlling ways and LET Mike lead. I talked about that before. Problem is…there are some areas he’s not exactly been keen or quick to take the lead. Some areas he never really did. (He’s not perfect, either, after all.) So here I am begging for help with disciplining our son, because, well, because I need it. Because Matthew needs it. Because he’s a guy and I’m not. I never wanted a “mama’s boy”. I wanted a son, sure, but I wanted him and his daddy to do stuff. I wanted his daddy to teach him about being a guy…cause I can’t. THAT’S what is missing. The kid’s 9 and he’s not stupid. He sees that things are a little lacking in this department.

So what’s MY part? How do I go about getting Mike to step up? In fact, should I? Wouldn’t that be manipulating??? If I DO something to GET Mike to step up, I mean…. On the other hand, if I do nothing, then I’m failing at my job of trying to do all I can to help my husband and children.

Which leads us to pastor’s office. How you ask? Well… Matthew’s ever-increasing pushing-behavior. Yelling, throwing, rebelling, yaddayaddaetc. Ok. Mike told me last week to wake him up when Matt starts to head downhill so that maybe he can talk some sense into him before it gets so bad we have to spank. So I went and woke him up. Matt climbed out a window and started mocking his father, ringing the doorbell and taunting and generally talking-back. Mike did nothing.

Oh-my-goodness!-did-I-ever-have-a-time! I did only ‘ok’. I was fixing dinner and I tried so bad to just leave it to Mike. I knew WHY Mike was not chasing him to spank him. I knew WHY he was just sitting there doing nothing. But I didn’t know if it was right or not. Mike knew he would have physical problems chasing and catching Matthew, so he wasn’t going to chase him. He was going to spank him whenever Matthew finally decided to come back in the house. Ok, but in the meantime Matthew is TOTALLY controlling the situation and ruling the roost! BIG TIME! I tried to leave it, but that thought kept nagging. So I said as much to Mike. NICELY…honest. Something like “He’s in control right now…or at least he thinks he is. I know you don’t want to chase him, but he’s thinking he’s getting away with something. He thinks he can run outside and be safe and you won’t do anything about it. We can’t let him run the ship…”

See how nice I was? I mean I didn’t yell at him, I didn’t tell him he was wrong…and yet I wasn’t JUST trusting either. =( I should have kept my mouth shut. I shouldn’t have said what I did at all, because basically it was like telling Mike he didn’t know what he was doing. Thing is…I was worried…again….still…a lot. I didn’t know the right way to handle it, but I wasn’t sure Mike did either. In fact, he said as much…a lot. Exasperatedly! He didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to get through to him, etc.

That’s a frequent conversation around here, too. Me saying I don’t know what to do….what do I do? What do you want me to do with him? etc and Mike saying I don’t know, Chris. I don’t know what to do. You want me to make a decision, but out of what 2 choices? I don’t know and I have no clue? Ok, I pick I have no clue. I’m open for suggestions. etc..

Here’s where the pastor’s office comes in. Even though I’m TOTALLY trying to leave the whole discipline decision-making to Mike, because he is supposed to lead, I do think I should do what I can where I can. One place I can avail myself of some knowledge and help is church. When the opportunity presented itself…I took it. I don’t think that was overstepping Mike’s place, do you? Especially considering the fact that Mike told me to take Matthew to church tonight regardless of him protesting that he didn’t want to go…along with his statements of if we could afford it, he’d look into pyschological/pyschiatric help for Matthew and he was open to suggestions because he doesn’t know what to do.

So what’s next? I have no clue. haha! (Notice my tagline reads “I like simplicity“?? Now you know why…because I have so little of it in my life!) Pastor prayed for Matthew, and then offered him a deal. A fishing trip if he gets a good behavior report at the end of next month. He even marked it on his calendar to ask about it!

Want to know something else really, really COOL?!

Tonight’s sermon was on prayer…praying BIG prayers, but praying them right. Pastor talked about the woman who asked Jesus to heal her demon-possessed (NO, I don’t think Matthew is possessed…don’t even go there!) daughter, and how Jesus at first didn’t answer her (seemingly ignored!) then rebuked her before she finally got the help she sought. After being rebuked, she worshipped Him. Then she fell at His feet seeking mercy and grace. He answered with “great is thy faith” and healed her daughter. During the sermon, besides thinking about the sermon itself and it’s application in my life, I was also thinking about Matthew and his behavior. I prayed that God would please help Matthew to obey, to want to obey (not new prayers, by the way…just again…), and to please give him the strength and whatever else he needed to do so.

I do think there was a prayer answered tonight…or at least very possibly so. That fishing trip just might be the motivator Matthew needs. It’s certainly a special something…totally unique and different from anything else we’ve tried. Also, it’s a good male role model kind of a thing. ALSO? Last year Matthew totally wanted to go on the Father/Son overnight fishing trip, but Mike couldn’t get off work (and truth be told probably would not have gone anyway) so he was all set to go with a “sub”, but it didn’t work out.

So, let’s see…not new prayers…prayers I’ve prayed again and again and SEEMINGLY GOT NO ANSWER. Then I totally got rebuked. You reap what you sow…grow up and have kids that don’t obey you. Totally. Know what though? I absolutely ain’t givin’ up. Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table! I know God is great, God is mighty, God is capable of anything and everything. He is in control and He is worthy or praise and worship no matter what happens down here. Whether I live or die. Whether Mike leads or not. Whether Matthew obeys or not. God is God! He is holy and perfect and justified in doing whatever He sees fit to do. If the Lord Jesus Christ steps in and intervenes, things will be fine. Regardless of whether Matthew gets his fishing trip or not.

Is my faith great? I’d like to think so, but I am not the one to judge it great or not. That is up to the Lord. I know it’s not as great as I’d like it to be. Nowhere near as great as I’d like it to be! If it were I wouldn’t be so easily duped into wondering if/thinking God is against me and wants to do me harm. If it were that thought would not even get a second glance.
I think, though, that it just might be growing a little here.

Lessons learned today?

  • I am still not totally trusting the discipline to Mike. Need to work on keeping mouth COMPLETELY shut, the WHOLE time
  • my mind is quick to grab a negative threatening thought against myself and run with it. This is not news…just further reminding that I have bad habits in the whole self-worth area that need crackin’!
  • I need to get back to praying for some things that I’d quit praying about.
  • I need to pray bigger and more often.
  • I need to relax, rest, and just trust in Jesus to take care of me. Period.
  • I need more practical advice (and practice) on what bits are mine to take care of and what bits I should leave to others.
  • I need more practical (i.e. specifics) advice on how to best help my hubby in terms of getting our roles/places re-aligned God’s way…without stepping on his toes by demanding he do so
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