In reflection of Mother’s Day yesterday, I want to share with you one of my most cherished relationships, the friendship I have with my mother – a one of a kind.
My Mom and Me
Over the years, my mom has become not only one of my most adored friends, but also she understands me more than most. In Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman talks about how children take on characteristics of their parents – it is fascinating. He explains the neuroscience behind what I have experienced in my relationship with my mom. She and I share not only similar traits but similar “issues”. Her struggles are very similar to mine because as a child I developed in her reflection.
This mirroring is a great blessing because I have someone close to me, whose love abounds toward me, who I can be completely vulnerable with, and who understands!! There is no glazing over of eyes, but a depth that says, yes I know, wrapped in abundant love, not judgment or disapproval. We truly have shared in each others pain, because we both have experienced it in varying degrees. Because of our similarities we are a tremendous support, encouragement and comfort to one another. There is no one who can take her place, because no one understands what I face like she does, and vice versa.
I wish this relationship for everyone because the intimacy is precious and unique. However, I think many don’t because they have resentment toward their mothers (like I once had) or they can’t accept their imperfections; because it is too hard to admit that they may be a bit like their parents. Often the traits we don’t like about others are the traits we don’t like about ourselves – whether we are conscious of it or not. As a result, we keep at a distance from seeking to really know and understand our mothers. When I was younger I convinced myself I was nothing like my mom. I resented certain ways that she was. What a fool I was on many levels. Only when I was open to all that she was did I really begin to learn about her and thus about me and the healing began in our relationship and in us.
I am my mother’s daughter. I am a part of her.
Interestingly, when I accepted that we shared similar issues that is when the healing began. As long as we suppress and deny our inner “stuff” the more it grows and festers. Healing comes with acknowledgement. First you have to acknowledge the problem before it can be fixed. I think God created this mirroring affect with our parents so that we have a built in reflection of ourselves, support, encouragement and someone to help us grow past out issues.
If there are things about your mom you don’t like. Take a closer examination. Perhaps there is some of her issues in you that you need to acknowledge so you can grow past them. And once you realize that it is okay to share in those vulnerabilities, then the healing begins and the journey to freedom can be shared with a woman who understands more than anyone else. And in the process a sweet intimacy is created unlike any other.
People fascinate me. I enjoy learning why people do what they do and that is why I got a masters degree in Psychology. Psychology, the study of human behavior, offers many interesting theories and paradigms to people’s behavior so they can predict behavior as well as alter it. However, where it fails is to truly change people.
The world pushes us to become our own gods. We create our destinies, shape our futures, determine the outcomes, overcome our weaknesses, fix our problems, and are in control. We are who we are because of our decisions, our choices, our strengths, and so on. Therefore, become better, stronger, and smarter is the message of today. And with this philosophy, psychological frameworks have become a major force in helping us get there.
However, this philosophy is a lie. It is an endless run on the hamster wheel going no where. Having studied it in depth, psychology with all its answers and solutions is not the answer. It can tell us something is wrong, it can help us understand why we did what we did as mere men 1 Corinthians 3:3, but it is not the solution.
We are the problem. The problem can’t fix itself. All psychology and worldly wisdom can offer is band aids to the problems which weary us. They offer temporary moments of hope followed by despair.
The only answer is God, our Creator.
For the first 30 years of my life I acted like the creator taking on the philosophy of the world trying to shape myself into who I wanted to be. My goal was to move as far away as possible from the weak, pathetic, and broken person who caused so much pain and destruction. And these psychological philosophies promised the change I was looking for. But all they did was lead me further down a path of bondage and spiritual death. Sure there were moments I thought I was going somewhere, but when I stepped back, the things that really mattered got worse because I got worse.
A mind not taken captive by God’s word is a mind captive to death. 1 John 5:19
After all my efforts, nothing changed for the better. I was broken and need of someone much bigger to recreate me. In addition, I carried a tremendous burden because the repair work was all up to me, someone who in the stillness of my mind I knew didn’t have the power or strength to make me who I wanted to be.
If you are a self-help junky you will always be. Like a drug, you constantly need more books, tapes, and seminars to keep the high going and to convince yourself that you have found the answer. We hang on to the hope that the next page, book, or insight will be the final fix.
The day I threw away every self-help book and self-improvement tape and put my life completely in the hands of God trusting His work in me and the power of His Word was the day my life truly started to change because the new spirit in me started to grow. I will be honest, it was very difficult. I wanted to hold on to at least some books. They had been my hope for so long, even if they were an empty hope, it was hope.
Trusting God alone is completely counter to this world’s philosophies but it is the only true solution as I have discovered. Throwing out those false securities and trusting only in God and the power of His Word was one of the best decisions I ever made. I let go of the flesh and embraced the new life born of Him in me. And that life lives by faith, trust in His Word alone, and has no confidence in the flesh. This new life holds the characterstics that we all desire. Before I was running in circles, but since the Word became my source of truth, wisdom and life I have done nothing but moved forward. And it is a great feeling. Finally!
But these improvement offerings are so enticing for what they promise, a better life, a better you and all you have to is step 1, 2, 3. Its so easy!! But it doesn’t work. Not really. Not in the way we are seeking. It doesn’t bring what we all desire in life – unshakable value, meaning, purpose, satisfaction, peace, love, happiness and joy.
But the pull on us is like a tractor trailer. This past week a friend asked if I wanted to go to a class basically about being a better you. As I was getting lured in, I felt a hesitation in my spirit. Why are you going down that road again? You have travelled both paths and you know the only path to life is to completely trust God in this area. It was leaving that all behind when you started to find what you truly desired. What are you thinking?
You are right! What was I thinking? The wisdom of the world is foolishness. Many of the things this class promised were things that I strove to achieve and create in my life for years – purpose, meaning, right thoughts, and a better life. For the first time, these past couple of years all these have become a part of me and it is because all I did was abide in your Word and trust your work in me, not me. When I finally found the right path why would I want to stop and change direction? Thanks from keeping me from walking down that path again.
With this new year upon us, as we set high aspirations to become better and stronger all for God’s glory of course – let’s not forget how we are called to walk – in His wisdom not the world’s. And His wisdom says trust His work in you, abide in His Word, His truth sets you free, He works in your weaknesses, He is your healer, deliverer, power, and strength. He is the answer not the world’s psychology and wisdom. And the best part is He produces real lasting results and because it is His works and not yours He carries the burden. Our part; trust, rest and abide.
Here is the choice; work, strive and push for no true results, or trust, rest and abide for real lasting results?
Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.
One of the most difficult areas for me to learn to trust in God has been internal change. I am bit of a perfectionist . . . and when I don’t like something about myself I try my best to fix it. Before God became the center of my life, I was a slave to self-improvement. I tried endlessly to be a better and stronger person prompted from a past that left me passive, withdrawn, defensive and closed off.
I can fix me. How hard can it be? Isn’t that the one thing we do control? Isn’t that what the billion dollar industry of self-help is all about? In my stubbornness and impatience of wanting to be different right now, for years I carried the burden of trying to change and never sought God’s help. The uncertainty of His timing and if He would help at all was too great a risk. Sure, I would superficially ask for His help, but I continued to hold on to and trust my latest instant gratification scheme. We either trust Him or ourselves. Blindly, I opted for me because I didn’t know Him enough to trust Him.
As the years passed, I set out to know Him. Then one day the power of these verses drew me in and set me free from the endless unsuccessful attempts to inner transformations.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Psalm 29:1-2a Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. 2 Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
God showed me how tightly I was holding onto my power to change and not attributing power to Him. He was the one to work in me and I needed to trust in His power to do so and stop trying to develop my own strength and glory. With this new awareness and finally admitting my efforts had been in vain, I vowed to stop. I started to sincerely ask for His help.
Surrendering to His timing and His methods wasn’t easy. It felt like letting go of a steering wheel going 60 miles an hour and trusting someone you can’t see to grab a hold. But I got rid of all my books, stopped trying to do it myself and let Him take the wheel. He probed into the depths of my soul and traversed places I didn’t know existed. He went to my core and worked outward. In time, I started to change for the first time, one layer at a time. My soul has become a fountain of praise for all the afflictions He has healed. Once I saw His work in a few areas it became easier to trust Him with the rest.
We, the problem, can’t fix ourselves because we are the problem. We can masquerade temporary alterations, but true change is only possible by someone outside ourselves who is bigger and more powerful working in us. We go to the symptoms and God goes to the core, a core whose details we are rarely consciously aware of until He shows us. With new awareness, I stepped aside and started giving God strength in my life by believing He would and could work in me in all areas. That journey set me on the path to freedom and continues today.
I still have to remind myself when things come up to leave the work to Him. And today I write to remind myself to let go. He works in me. It is His job. Mine is to trust in His work, rest in His promises, follow Him His lead, surrender to His timing and be still and know He is MY God.
God loves us more than we can comprehend. He doesn’t want us trapped in afflictions and states of mind that bind us. Afflictions are to motivate us to search for Him and His ways that are perfect in love and truth and set us free. He wants us to be free, healthy and thriving. But He is the one to take us there. He is the only one who can. I have pushed, tried and work long and hard enough to know my efforts are fruitless and in vain.