Scripture reading for today: Obadiah, Nahum 1-3
Consider taking “coming to believe” very seriously. We’ve been discussing it all month. But I am convinced that few of us have given our “believing” the serious consideration it deserves.
I also have a theory as to why we are deficit in the believing department. For many of us, our families of origin have taught us to ignore the cries of our own hearts.
- In unhealthy families, children are taught to not trust their own thoughts or feelings.
- In unhealthy families, the thoughts and feelings of each family member are not valued equally. (The most dependent member often demands attention and sucks the energy out of the family—energy that should have been dispersed among all the members.)
- In unhealthy families, distorted thoughts, relationship styles, beliefs, and even mental health issues are “passed on” to the next generation. This is done both consciously and unconsciously. Some things we teach; many things we model.
- In healthier families, there is both a commitment and a skill set that allows members to experience problems AND focus on the solutions.
- In healthier families, the input of each member is valued (which validates each person’s worth). Remember that in unhealthy families, the needs of the children are usually subjugated to the desires of the parents.
Last night our youngest son was under the mistaken impression that I drank out of his glass of milk. I did not. But that did not stop him from getting up, pouring it out and refilling it with fresh milk. His father teased him about his compulsive cleanliness when it comes to drinking glasses. (He takes exception to glasses with gunk in them. The rest of us feel that if there is a little gunk in the bottom of a glass that has gone through the dishwasher then the gunk is sterile. Perhaps this is unhealthy.)
I think what happened next was kind of cool. I mentioned that although we liked to tease about the gunk, I truly thought the new milk pouring was a bit obsessive. His comment to me was, “You’re sick a lot.”
I can’t tell you the last time that I was sick. But instead of saying, “Are you nuts? I’m healthy as a horse. You’re wrong mister!” I asked for clarification, “Tell me more.”
After a brief discussion, he recalled my two surgeries in 2005 (hernia repair and cataract removal) and the time I got the flu (also in 2005 and was sick for weeks). I was glad to have this information. Sure, I remembered the incidents. But I didn’t know that to him it felt like I was sick all the time. That year took a toll on more than just my insurance company’s bottom line.
I know this seems like a silly example. But take a moment and dig deep. What began as a funny incident at dinner led to an opportunity for Michael to get some stuff off his chest that he didn’t even know had been perched there. I think Michael’s perspective probably got readjusted a bit. But for sure, his parents learned something new.
We certainly have our unhealthy patterns in our family, but in this instance, I think we had a healthy moment. This would not happen in a family where a kid has learned to never say what he’s thinking, feeling, believing, or fearing. This wouldn’t happen in a family where the kid is concerned about the consequences if he says something that his folks might not agree with.
If you live in a family that can’t have healthy discussion, conflict without confrontation, open sharing of feelings in an environment of mutual respect—if those things aren’t happening, it’s going to be pretty hard to “come to believe.” More on this topic tomorrow.
Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. Ephesians 4:14 The Message
There’s a verse in Isaiah that says this: Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight. (5:20-21 NIV). I ask you to invite the Holy Spirit to direct you in this matter; ask him to show you, are there things you are believing about yourself, your world, others, and God that are not true? Are there beliefs that you’ve learned from you family since before you had words to name them that are not in keeping with what God has taught us? Could there be some strongly held beliefs that you cling to that are wrong? It’s crazy thinking to be out of alignment with God’s perspective. (But use caution: sometimes mere mortals tell us things about God that are not right.)