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Redemptive Grace

Loving Jesus, Loving People….(including even me).

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February

Wives Under Fire

It isn’t very often that I come across an article on biblical marriage from a wife who is not a pastor’s wife, or who isn’t from the genteel south, or who isn’t trying to appear to have this whole thing figured out (granted, there might be a few stereotyped overgeneralizations in that observation). Since submission is the hot topic of Christian marriages, just for fun, try Google-ing, “How to be a submissive wife.” The first (there are over a million) article literally made me nauseous. I won’t go so far as to list the title or author(s), but I hope beyond hope that the article was satirical (although they fail to give any indication that it is). Nonetheless, it was a degrading and gross misrepresentation of a wife’s role and would do serious damage to an already fragile woman desperately trying to figure out how to ‘wife-well’. Maybe it’s just where I’m at, but I kind of want to hear from a person who is struggling intensely.

So, although I am the furthest qualified from giving relational advice, it seems that I will need to speak up. At least, I have two things going for me: I seriously struggle with life and I can speak to what not to say/do. Really, I have no idea how to make a marriage work well, and will not pretend that I do. That said…

There is one thing that I have learned in fifteen years of marriage: being a biblically submissive wife has very little to do with the man you married.thSY2S1254

Within the world of Christ followers, it would do a woman well to come to know that submission is an aspect of spiritual obedience to God. Yes, we practice that in part in our marital relationships, but ultimately it is a reflection of our willingness to be led by our Creator. Trust doesn’t come easily, though, and isn’t always warranted by our spouses. Our experiences make it incredibly hard to say, “I trust you to have my best intentions.” For those of us that have been harmed, the control of self is something that is staunchly guarded; a seemingly necessary by-product of pain. The thing is, it isn’t about humans, but about our relationship with God.

Come to know that to be submissive is not a sign of weakness, but of acute strength.  Our skewed vision of submission says otherwise, but biblical submission never requires that you are a doormat to another person’s dominance. It is borne of mutuality and requires that vital piece of sacrificial love (discussed here). An immense amount of strength is exhibited when a wife is submissive. She is giving up her defiant, stubborn nature in sacrifice and deferment to her partner. She is putting others first.*

Yes, these truths require a massive overhaul of our narratives. I get that. I LIVE that.

The role of, “Wife” is to be gentle and respectful…and loved well, and listened to, and taken into account. An imbalance of reciprocity and sacrifice doesn’t change that. What needs to be adjusted is the self-serving pity, negative thought, and discontentment felt within. Not to say that those feelings, or tendencies to guard yourself, or the pull to be hyper-vigilant isn’t a valid response, just that it doesn’t actually help us out in the end.

The idea of sacrificial love, service, and submission is like a braided strand, woven intricately in mutuality with grace, patience, and mercy.

And when you cannot…remember Psalm 73:26 “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”


 

*This isn’t to be confused with the idea that a man should always have his way, that he should require her to bow down to him, or that he should rule with an iron fist. It is not justification for a husband to be abusive, or to demand anything of his wife. Submission has to be a conscious decision on the part of the giver. Read more on this topic in this post: He-Man Woman Hater.

If you are here and wondering about what a good man is and isn’t, please click on this link for more resources:  www.armsonline.org

 

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He-Man Woman Hater

“I… (insert name here)… Member in good standing of the He-Man Woman Haters Club… Do solemnly swear to be a he-man and hate CRAZY women and not play with them or talk to them unless I have to. And especially: never fall in love, and if I do may I die slowly and painfully and suffer for hours – or until I scream bloody murder.”                                                                             ©The Little Rascals, 1994

The price of submission is sacrifice. Your sacrifice.

Those of you in the church and even out of it, how often do you hear: ‘Women are to submit to their husbands.’ Do you even know what comes along with that? HUSBANDS LOVE YOUR WIVES. Right? Like, when do we focus on that part of it? There is hardly any thEVCYSIIUreasonable way that we can approach the piece of submission if the piece of sacrificial love is not first addressed.

So stop telling her she must be submissive without teaching her first about how to be loved.

Also. We need to recognize that we are coming from a culture that has made the submissive wife the most pivotal piece in this symbiosis; and one in which we haven’t thoroughly approached the responsibility of the husband. Think about it in terms of history here in America. The right for women to vote is less than a hundred years old. We have seen a massive exodus from marriage, mothering as a full time occupation, and most of all from the traditional view of roles within a familial unit. Does it not seem as though it is fairly reflective of an imbalanced system?

Know this: I am no women’s rights advocate, but I’m also seriously not into being categorized as a stereotypical housewife either.

Let me put it this way. Men. Women want to serve. But heed this: SHE WILL ONLY DO SO IN A LOVING ENVIRONMENT.  

When the focus lies on the submissive wife, (as it has for far too long in the Christian church), we make assumptions about the husband’s gentle, pure love for his wife. Now, if he has lived in a society where the man rules and the message is heavy-handed toward a female’s responsibility to submission do you think he is honestly going to understand what sacrificial love looks like, feels like, and accomplishes? I’m leaning toward no. Not in the truest sense, anyway.

Where does that leave us? Let me shout my response because talking quietly doesn’t seem to be getting the point across: MEN IN THE CHURCH, YOU NEED TO STEP IT THE EFF UP. I cannot be any clearer. Learn to seek the wisdom of Christ as a picture of sacrificial love, and teach it to your sons. Christ does not require his church to be submissive to the law before He loves, but by grace in the midst of turmoil when she was least deserving…He sacrifices. In the same way understand fully that being firm, and being a leader has NOTHING to do with control, shame, or dominance and everything to do with gentle service, strong character, and integrity.

Be gentle, not because she is weak. But because she is strong and in every way will be the one to lift you up.

Cherish her.

Look, we’ve all got to deal with our own gigantic pile of crap. Just be aware: you being broken does not give you permission to be a royal PITA. You are still bound by your covenant to Christ first and foremost.

Man up. Love your wife as Christ exemplifies in His love of the church and I promise you a good woman will learn to submit to your kindness because she too, wants to be pleasing to our God. th2EPQ0J33

Next up: Wives Under Fire

 

 

 

Beauty In Isolation

There are two working engines in this mind of mine. Running on simultaneous tracks, one is full of knowledge, the other rooted firmly in experience. What lies between isimagesICE74AGC a fluctuating tension gap that causes unrelenting waves of anxiety, worry, unjust vulnerability, isolation. In the widest spaces, it can be a dreadful existence to have knowledge be so far from reality. In times where the two tracks cross and intertwine, there is blessed contentment.

In trauma reality is a force that won’t go quietly: it demands a space and confuses a mind. To know so fully the tools of therapy, the grace of a God who redeems, images (4)and the science of a working memory while concurrently living an existence that creates dissonance can be consuming. To ask God, “Where are you? Can you even hear me?” To begin to feel the tremors of aloneness…is a desolation too great to bear, and so we distract, we worry. We turn up the music to drown out the cacophony in the mind, we drink away the distress. We run.

Even the act of worry gets us out of the gap and pulls us away from the tension. We are trained so thoroughly to reject discomfort it becomes our single most focus.

LIRR Fire Disruptions Train DelaysIn times when reality hijacks knowledge, it derails emotional well-being and confounds. It can lead to a darkness so full of worry, it is hard to call back the light. It is a nightmarish claw back to serenity. Unless we can shift the paradigm (the model) of what we can expect to experience in the tension.

What if I told you completeness is found IN the tension gap? That the gap between knowledge and reality is where we find healing; that it holds the promise of hope.

To remain in the moment and to feel exactly everything in that tension gap is a task. We have to practice mindfulness and vulnerability first to ourselves before we can even entertain moving this existence to our relationships. In order to create authentic relationship with ourselves, we must confront and accept our ultimate isolation and learn to sit with what that means. To let go of worry. To allow contemplation. To be comfortable with discomfort. Easy to say, harder to practice.

It is a cry out to a God that we are not even fully sure is accessible; and a wrestling with our theology. It is turning ourselves time and time again to face the God of our faith.  To say, “My soul is weary with sorrow. imagesKE5Z0YA2Strengthen me (Psalm 119:28).” To be angry and reject the fact that something like this is even written, and yet to continue to turn back and plead for a release. Release will come, even if just for a moment “And [you] will answer the one who taunts (119:42)…” you will begin to see the end of darkness.

It is in these moments of ultimate loneliness that the reframing of our isolation can create in us a wholly healing perspective on desolation. Instead of pushing back and rejecting this space, try sitting quietly or hiking through nature. Become aware of what you see, what you hear, what your body is saying to you. There is beauty to be found in the isolation that you feel; in the tension gap between knowledge and reality you can find a place to grow in your ability to be more present to the life you so desperately want to live. Hills

Continue reading “Beauty In Isolation”

ADHD Isn’t Real

Does-My-Child-Has-ADHD

Ok, you win…this ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) thing isn’t actually a thing. Your awfully big opinion must mean that you have studied brain imaging, right? Psychology? Trauma? Genetics? ….Anything? Or maybe you’re basing your knowledge on your vast experience with children? I suppose yours were all really well behaved? Really, I’m guessing that you’ve never actually lived with a child who just c.a.n.n.o.t.

Walk through a day with me. It’s 7:55am  on Saturday and we have a soccer game to go to in three hours. It’s thirty minutes away and we have to be there twenty minutes early. Actually, let me back up: this morning started for us last Tuesday when I made sure that this child knew about the game, day, and time (along with a reminder about travel time, exact time we’ll need to walk out the door, a discussion about EVERY piece of her uniform- including asking what she thinks that means in terms of her needing to do laundry, making sure she can identify where her bag and water bottle are, and encouraging her to think about where her cleats are). No. I’m not micromanaging. Watch.

Yes, mooooom. I know (Mmmmk, sweet girl).

Thursday. Still working toward Saturday’s game. Have we planned adequate rest time Friday? Will she be in bed by 9:00pm? Do we have a protein rich breakfast that she’ll actually eat? What about a hearty snack she can choose to munch on for the drive?

Nope. Still not helicopter parenting, just making sure we will survive.

It’s 6pm Friday now. One of her brothers has decided he’d rather sit this one out tomorrow. Sure bud. Cue sister meltdown in 3..2..1.

Let’s drop back in on Saturday. Breakfast in progress. Hey sister! Good morning (and lots of hugs)! Yep, you can watch a bit of TV. Please be sure it’s off by 9am for your game. 8:45, hey girl. 15 mins. Ok mom. 9:01. Turn it off, please. MooOom, can’t I finish my show? Nope, we’ve got your game! Come on! Whelp. That did it. We’ve entered stage one of meltdown. Life is so unfair. Daughter, your choice, off now or lose it for the remainder of the day. Cue argument. Whoops you chose no more TV. Go cool off upstairs please.screen-capture-19 Now she’s yelling so we’ll have to resort to a cool ninja-mom-Psychologist-approved-finger-in-the-armpit-move and take her to her room. She’s screaming. Shoot. Now your door has to be closed until you’re finished with that. She’s entered the bat-sh*t-crazy phase of I don’t cares, you’re the worsts, and I hate yous. Mmmk child. Tell it to your pillow, *closing door. It’s 9:03am.

Are you exhausted yet? We haven’t even gotten to actually eat breakfast, or faced getting on clothes, or any of the other reasonably outlined aspects of a morning routine.

This is life with a child who struggles with ADHD (the kind that doesn’t exist). Her brain is just on fire all.the.time.

“Normal” parenting seems pretty straightforward. You name a simple expectation, give options and consequences, let the child fail a few times and everyone learns a valuable lesson in communication, relationship, success… In our home, though, we name a simple expectation and receive an initial response, followed by a reactionary response, followed by a ratcheting response, and finally materializing into complete chaos. It’s 0-100 in 37 seconds flat. Instituting natural consequences is like calling WWIII.

Parenting always requires a response. On good days, we have the strength to use a calm soothing strong voice. On normal days we experience a heightened awareness and speak as calmly as possible. On bad days with bad responses we’re yelling and dis-regulated, we just add to the crazy. The reaction from the child is pretty much the same: chaos and tantrums that require child to be physically removed from the situation.

So, yes. Please tell me how my lack of parenting has led to my child struggling with impulsivity, racing thoughts, and anxiety. Truly, I haven’t struggled with feeling inadequate enough already. Maybe offer me some great tools I haven’t tried, or disciplines, or how about a look of pity. That always helps.

Seriously though, did we question the validity of PTSD because we didn’t understand the impact of stressmyths-not-259x300 or have the imagery of the brain that we do now? Nope. Even when we didn’t collectively have a name for it, the effects of war were evident and validated.

So how do we cope? Well, we’ve been offered very high amounts of medication to take multiple times of day. While it is not my first choice, for our family we have chosen to give the very smallest dose just to make our lives manageable. Occasionally we give a small helper in the evening, but it’s a conversation we have with our child on a daily basis. Our personal outlook on medication is that it is there to help us adapt, not change the child. We also utilize therapy, essential oils, sports, family time, occupational therapy, and especially prayer; because seriously, parenting is HARD.

We have good moments too. Our child is compassionate and artistic. She feels DEEPLY. The things she struggles with now are going to be some of her greatest strengths. She’s persistent, she questions reason, she is articulate. She’s going to be ok. We’re going to be ok. Everyone is going to be ok.

Eventually.

 

 Resources and References too:

ADHD In Children  http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adhd/basics/definition/CON-20023647

“Children with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. Symptoms sometimes lessen with age. However, some people never completely outgrow their ADHD symptoms. But they can learn strategies to be successful. “

Effects of Physical Activity on Children’s Executive Function: Contributions of Experimental Research on Aerobic Exercise http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3147174/

How Do I Know If My Child Has Executive Functioning Issues? http://www.childmind.org/en/posts/articles/2014-4-18-how-know-child-has-executive-function-issues

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