Monday, August 3, 2015

Do Our Kids See Our Past or Our Present?

Chapter excerpt from my work in progress: Ages and Stages: The Book

My original chapter title was "Do Our Kids See Our Past or Our Present?" but just this morning I thought of two alternatives: "When We Live in Our Past" or ""Overcoming the Past, Wading through the Present". Neither of these may become the actual titles, but such is the process of writing!

Here is an excerpt from this chapter. It's been one of the most difficult chapters to write.

In the mid-1990s our marriage hit rough waters. Doug called it individual hurricanes colliding to form one massive storm. It wasn’t fun.
But it was a needed season of learning. Although as young Christians we had read a lot about spiritual warfare and recognized a few areas in our personal lives that needed healing, we had no idea that our souls were really icebergs.
So in order to work on our marriage, we needed to address many of the unseen areas of lives. This included doing individual inventories of rooms in our soul which is the realm of the emotions, the memories and the will. Faithful ministers in our local church and a wonderful ministry called Freedom in Christ, founded by Neil Anderson helped us through this stage.
I learned that we always need healing from something. Whether it’s the dog that chased me down the street when I was five or whether I perceived that I was being rejected by a loved one just yesterday,a regular inventory of my heart needs to occur. If I don’t, my family is bound to be affected by my wounded soul.
All of us remember the environments and cultures in which we grew up and the relationships that made impressions on us. As children, we are blank mounds of clay shaped by other people. Every human being is like a chisel, intentionally or unintentionally
making impressions into the souls of those around us. The Bible calls God the Potter, and as a Father, His desire is for all of us to be initially shaped by parents who reflect His character. But there is no person on earth that perfectly reflects God’s character. That leaves even those with the most fortunate upbringings indented with impressions left by people or situations from their past.

(later in this chapter)
We inherit good habits and talents as well as predispositions to specific thought patterns and behaviors. Besides the goodnight kiss, I didn’t grow up in an affectionate home, and as a child I always admired families that that were affectionate. As a result, I made a conscious decision to be affectionate with my children as long as they would let me, which usually ended up being until the age of seven. The downside of this was that because physical affection wasn’t my natural inclination, except for the nightly kiss goodnight, my kids went without much human touch from age seven until eighteen or older. I found out later that as teenagers, they wondered why we weren’t an affectionate family. They missed it but were unable to ask for it!

Now affection is easier for me to initiate towards my older kids and even towards my husband. To put my arm around my daughter’s shoulders is as deliberate an act as being mindful of a child’s particular love language.  Was this generational lack of parental affection a muted ache in my family line? Heaven knows. However I’ve realized that as a parent I need to learn more about how human beings are made by God to function. I need to read books written from a biblical worldview about child development as well as adolescence. I need to remember the yearnings that I had as a teenager and realize that those yearnings were not individual to me, but normal for all people. Everybody wants a super duper bear hug at some point, even the teenage male who thinks he has it all together!

A few books that were instrumental not only in helping me model God as a parent but also in giving me tools to overcome the obstacles that were robbing my children of a emotionally healed mother were: Seven Longings of the Human Heart by Mike Bickle, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, Victory Over the Darkness by Neil Anderson and The Root of Rejection by Joyce Meyer.