Thursday, April 30, 2009

"An Untroubled Heart," Chapter 5 and 6


All right, folks, I feel SO way behind here. I thought to myself when I started this book that I wouldn't let myself get caught posting two chapters at once. And that I would keep up, and post on Tuesdays... yeah, well, like Lelia said this week, life gets in the way, and it has been a crazy week or so.
If you want to see more posts about our Yes to God study, pop over to Lelia's site and enjoy!

Chapter 5: Family Matters

A lot in this chapter really hit me. I sat and read it and took notes as I went through, on the things that were popping out at me, and the questions it raised in my head.

I really had a lot of questions raised when I read this quote from Micca.
"Looking back on this frightful time, I can't help but wonder what Pat and I were building into our children - faith or fear? As Christians, we should be the last people to be afraid of anything."

I agree with this part...

"We claim what Paul asks us in Romans 8:31 - 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' - but act otherwise when the foundation of our home is shaken. Our children shouldn't see fear in us. We can't say with our mouths that we trust God and contradict that trust with our actions." (emphasis mine)

Ok... this is where I struggle. I agree that hypocrisy is an issue here... when we say that God being with us should give us no reason to fear anything, because He will never leave us or forsake us, but then act fearfully, and show that fear to our kids, it is self destructing. They are much more likely to follow our actions than our words.

Maybe our kids shouldn't see fear in us. But they do. I know my kids have. All the time, in me.

Case in point.
My son.
Peter.
5 years old.

I am seeing a growing fear in him, it has been growing in him this past year. So slowly that I don't think I really realized it was happening. Ever since he was born I have struggled with depression (that, I knew) and anxiety (which I identified later). I am sorry, but babies and little kids are so tuned into parents emotions, and stress and tension and anxiety... because they are looking to their parents for a sense of well-being, that if you are fearful, they are going to pick up on it. I don't care how hard you try to hide it.

I know I have tried to hide it plenty. But it is still there. I am excited for instance for my son to go to full time kindergarten next year. But I am apprehensive, wondering if public school is the right choice for him. Once he gets into it, I think he will be ok, but well... I don't want him to close down the way I know I did when I was young. I also think, from the talks I have had with my mother in law, that Dave did the same thing.

I have seen this anxiety rising in him all year. He is great when at school. He still plays alongside other kids rather than with them, but seems comfortable with his surroundings, the teachers and other classmates. But when something new gets thrown into his schedule, he tends to melt down. Either emotional melt downs at home, or immediate reactions of fear.

I really realized the extent of it, or maybe God showed me just recently. I was sharing with Peter about a school field trip he is going to be going on to a local zoo. With his whole class and teachers on a school bus (I drive him to school cause it's so close right now). His immediate reaction?

Fear.
Shrinking back.
Saying he didn't want to go.

Recently as we have been praying at night, he has mentioned having bad dreams. So I have prayed specifically in that area for him. Then when we are done praying I have re-assured him that God is with him and will never leave him alone. Peter's response? "Yes He will. He doesn't stay here with me. He never does. He always leaves me alone."

So, in his first years of life, did I sow fear or faith?

Yes, our children shouldn't see fear in us. But I think they are going to pick up on it, whether we want them to or not. Because we are fallible and we are going to be afraid, even when we don't want to be.

"By putting into practice what we learn from God's Word, we make knowledge a reality in our life. One step of trust leads to another until we find ourselves living carefree in His tender care. Sometimes it's necessary to repeat these steps when fear returns, pounding on our hearts. That's okay. Repeating the process is exercising faith, not fear."

That is how they see us walking in faith not fear. They are going to see us succumb to fear, but they are also going to need to see us overcoming that fear and trusting in God, instead.

Chapter 6: Learning to Trust Again

Learning to trust again has been a huge project for me. I have encountered so much betrayal and rejection. There were instances of it prior to my becoming a Christian. But the worst of it was after I became a Christian, the instances of betrayal and rejection came one on top of another and from other Christians.

"God cares for you greatly. We are His joy and delight."

"I've found that when I'm overcome with fear, I'm not really looking for answers but for the assurance that God is near, that He's in control, and that He cares about me and my circumstances. God does care."

Slowly I have learned to trust that God is who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do. I have learned that He is trustworthy. Humans may fail me. No, they WILL fail me. I will feel betrayed again. I will probably be thrown down into a pit by someone again.

But I have learned that the things others have meant for evil, God will work for my good and His glory.

For so long I ignored and built up walls to protect myself. I only let a few people inside, and still felt a world of hurt. I hid the hurt. Behind a big brick wall.

I had a choice to make. We all have a choice to make.
"We can either die in our fear of rejection, or like Joseph we can trust again through forgiveness."

I have been able to bring that wall down over the past year or so. Counseling was a big help. But so was God's provision of a close family group from my church and a very good friend who was willing walk with me through the healing process. He also provided me with an outlet through my blog, and all my new friends here.

I can look back at the past couple of years, and at what I have experienced in my life. Though I would never wish this stuff on anyone. I can say that I can see how God is working it all for good in my life.

Yes, it hurts.
Yes, the healing hurts.
Yes, it IS worth it all.

"We can focus on the worries, burdens, and fears of our limited experience and miss the joy that can be ours or, like Joseph, we can take the risk, venture out, and truly believe that God has a plan. Not just any kind of plan, but one that is so good we'll be able to look back and say it was worth it."

Taking the risk is hard. Hard to trust God, and hard to trust that He will really redeem things for you. It is hard to venture out. Very scary at times. It takes a lot of hard work, gritting the teeth and getting things done.

I can remember than my counselor asked me many times in session if I "wanted to go there." She was giving me the option to back out, and not push through right then. I remember answering her, "No, I don't want to go there. But I know that I need to." I came out of those sessions so exhausted. But God did some amazing things when I was willing to cooperate with Him.

His love has flooded through my barren places. He has filled and healed me in ways I never thought possible. My God has redeemed the years the locusts have eaten...

...and there is so much more to come!

As Cindy said, it is going to be a wild ride. Hang on to God. He has amazing plans for all of us.

4 comments:

Bringer of Peace said...

Awesome God we serve! Thank you for allowing others to catch a glimpse of the character of God through your living, including me.

You are so true about children's ability to 'sense' when there is unrest in us (dis ease in a spiritual or emotional level). On the other hand, praise the Lord, as you walk into the freedom of God, your children can also be set free through Christ. As Jesus cuts the root that was 'feeding' you the counterfeit emotions and He gives you the 'new heart' experience of love, that love power flowing into you will continue on to them in healing and maturity in Christ.

The JOY of the Lord is our strength. And JOY is very contagious, by the way - especially the real JOY.

May God's love fill you full.

Tina said...

Heather,
i'm glad I'm not the only one that got behind ;)
I just want to encourage you that I SEE so much strength in you! It is such a tremendous witness what God is doing in your life, and I want to thank you for putting yourself "out there" by sharing so honestly.

It sounds like your Peter has a sensitive heart, my youngest is similar, he is 15 now and I have seen him grow and learn to manage his emotions. You are right on with recognizing how they can pick up on our fear, the good thing is that I really believe that kids that are more sensitive are the ones who will grow into great encouragers, and comforters in the kingdom. It's a gift.

Have a blessed weekend,
Tina

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Yolanda said...

God always takes me (us) deeper and farther then we ever hope or dare to imagine. God is simply, INDESCRIBABLE!

Lovingly,
Yolanda