Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sort of finishing a book, learning to let go of fear, and getting out of the way

So I just finished this book, sort of....

It's by the same author who wrote "Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires, The Respect He Desperately Needs", which is one of my favorite books on marriage - as I have already blogged about.  And what I mean by "sort of" finished reading, is that I didn't actually read all the pages in the book. After about the 4th chapter I started skipping and skimming and I'm pretty sure what the author took 254 pages to write could have been adequately done in about 62 pages.  That's why I didn't finish the whole thing.  He just kept going on and on belaboring the same points...which I may or may not do myself on occasion, but this isn't about me.

As you can imagine from the title, it is a book about mothers and sons, and how respect is the key to winning their hearts.  Much like "Love and Respect" is about spouses building their relationship on the concepts of wives respecting their husbands, and husbands loving their wives because the greatest need for women is to be loved, and the greatest need for men is to be respected.  This book builds on the concept that boys...being men in the making...need to feel respected in order to feel loved.  Respecting my husband, I get that (I'm still working on it, but as a concept I get it). It's a little more complicated when it's a mother and son.  It's kind of a balance that needs to happen...how do you respect your child yet remain in a position of authority over him?  What does that look like?  The author does a great job of showing how a mom can respect her son as she corrects him, guides him, disciplines him, and all the while honoring his God-given need for respect.  And that goes beyond just our relationships with our boys.  We mom's really are teaching our sons how they can expect to be treated by their future wives.  Now there's a thought.

And here's another thought:  fear.  Much of my life has been effected by and sometimes controlled by fear, and the book addresses that too. This is an area that God has been working out in me for some time now...most intensely in the past couple of years. Probably because I am finally ready for the healing.  One of the biggest areas of fear for me has been in my parenting.  To one degree or another, I have always struggled with fear that something bad will happen to my kids.  Fear that they will make bad choices or turn from God, or drift away from me.  Fear that although my love for my kids is immeasurable, I will screw it up somehow. They will not know how loved they are and I will fail them.

Fear...the thing that has motivated me so often to hover and protect and react and control and worry...is also the very thing that causes me to stumble.  The. Very. Thing.  Fear...not the things I am afraid of...but the ACTUAL FEAR is my greatest enemy.  I recently had a light bulb moment during prayer, where God revealed to me that by holding on to fears I feel like I can control them.  But in reality, by holding onto fear it is fear that is controlling me.  Mind blow.

Here is where the book gets real for me, where the words on the page spoke so loudly to me I had to bookmark and highlight it and read it over and over.  (I really could have stopped reading the book at this point, but I pushed on for a couple dozen more pages.)

"I can say this with certainty: when fear controls a mother, she seeks to control.  In controlling her son from that which could harm him physically or hurt her emotionally, she feels less fear.  Control reduces her anxiety and insecurity."  But as the author points out a few paragraphs later, this type of overprotective and controlling mothering can result in a son feeling disrespected and pulling away from her - the very thing I fear most.  "She does not see him as the conqueror, protector, provider, authority, strong one, problem solver".  And that has an effect on a son's spirit.  By not honoring and encouraging who God designed him to be, a son pushes back.  Even rebels.

If I could recall all the times my boys have said "you don't trust me", or "just let me do it my way", or "stop treating me like a little kid"...I bet in the moment I thought I was loving them by helping and protecting and instructing.  But what they were actually receiving from this was my unintended message that they were not conquerors, not competent problem solvers...not worthy of my respect.  It is no surprise that they pull away from me and act less loving when that happens.

So now what?  How am I going to use this information from this book that I sort of read, and apply it to my relationships with our sons?  First of all I need to stop the temptation to beat myself up over not getting this sooner.  I do that to myself a lot.  But as Maya Angelou would say, now that I know better I will do better.   I will remember not to yell (yes, I admit I yell sometimes), but it is so disrespectful...to our daughters as well as our sons.  I will affirm their need to feel respected, as well as their need to be acknowledged for their accomplishments and their competence.  I will trust them more and hover less (it's a process).  I will instruct a little less, and allow them to try on their own more - and fail sometimes, even when I see it coming.  Life is sometimes the best teacher, and even better than that - the Holy Spirit is THE best teacher of all.  Sometimes I just need to shut my yapper and get out of His way.

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