Saturday, July 18, 2015

You don't have to be your Dad - Thoughts from an AoM blog post.

You Don’t Have to Be Your Dad: How to Become Your Family’s Transitional Character

Above is an excellent thought provoking post by 'The Art of Manliness' blog.

I think this can apply to young and older women too and with the same solutions as mentioned on the blog. Growing up, the marriages I saw looked like a masterpiece that had had someone scribble offensive graffiti over it. A lot of people agree with me that this is the new norm but sadly don't think theres anything worth salvaging and just call it obsolete. "Why marry, its stupid and everyone divorces anyway" is the common argument. Thats like taking the Sistine Chapel and its entire beautiful frescoes painstakingly painted by hand by Michelangelo and over the space of 50 years ++ more and more immature stupid people go and spray paint an F word and a bunch of male genitalia here and there and saying "Oh well, look how ugly and useless the sistine chapel is! We should just get rid of it now because its disgusting and will cause more harm than good now.." 

Is this what marriage looks like to us nowadays? Can we even see the picture anymore?
I think most people would be horrified at doing that to the Sistine Chapel!  Do they not know that there are people out there in the world whose career it is to restore ruined art? Like marriage, there are people out there who know what a good marriage is and have tools and resources ready for us! Yet most run around like headless chickens saying "No, no no noooo! It doesn't exist anymore!" Its not that marriage fails people, its that people fail marriage. And by getting rid of it in doing so you're getting rid of a priceless treasure whose worth and blessings we never noticed until its long gone a few generations and we finally realise when its too late how universally wonderful and worthwhile it it was. If all you saw was a an ugly piece of graffiti growing up, don't throw it away! Clean it up!

But cleaning up is easier said than done, its extremely time demanding and exhausting and its likely you'll get little to zero help from those who contributed to the graffiti. The hope is, that by standing out and making a change some members of your family MIGHT change. But I suspect they might not.

After God led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land, with many of the survivors, despite being taken out of physical bondage they still carried the emotional and spiritual wounds of bondage. Today we would call this Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Despite after seeing miracle after miracle they could not see out of of their visual lens of slavery and as such it impaired their ability to think freely and maturely. Of the millions that left Egypt, only two people were able to see beyond their past bondage and seek their inheritance in faith - Joshua and Caleb. The rest could not. God saw that they were either afraid, unwilling or just plain disobedient to look to Him and trust Him, so he forced them to stay in the Wilderness so the first generation could die off and a new generation could start again and walk into Caanan with the right mindset, resources and above all, faith in God. 

For many of us, generational "sins" may only leave with the passing of elders. In the story of the Exodus, the Israelites had to leave a 400 year old abusive relationship with nothing. They with the leadership of Moses were courageous in leaving but were incapacitated to create a new legacy. As such it was the children and grandchildren of those former slaves who were trained and taught to be men and women of God, children of God. It was those children and grandchildren that went on to conquer the Canaanite cities and kingdoms under Joshua, and those who forgot, turned away from God and returned to their "slave/sin" mindset were in turn destroyed by their enemies.

For those of us women who want to be transitional representatives to our old or new families how do we go about doing it?

- First of all you need to submit yourself before God and ask for a revelation of his purposes of life, marriage and (potential) motherhood. Ask God to reveal to you where your family attitudes, values and practices did not run in accord with his design for the family. THEN ask him if there was anything from your family culture that you should retain. Pray on this, and take notes, it will take you a while to get this all down. Compare and contrast your memories and thoughts with scripture.  

- Second, be in community in your church. The bible says we are his adopted children and Jesus is our big brother and church is our family. If you are the only christian in your family, you will need 'God Parents' (as such) to teach and guide you. Im not saying desert any relevant or useful advice from your biological parents or relatives, but if you worship Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and your immediate family do not, undoubtedly your goals and dreams in life will want to submit and be in line with His Will. Non Christian's by not seeing or loving Jesus as you, will have no comprehension of this and therefore there is a strong possibility their ideas will not come under your same line of reasoning. At church ask around for a godly couple. To find this couple their reputation will undoubtedly precede them by the fact that others will speak highly of them. Seek them out and without being a total stalker, become friends with them and over time humbly ask them questions on things you're finding difficult and they will give you some solid advice and will model their marriage to you. Get involved and serve where they serve. The best role modelling I got was of a husband/wife team doing their ministry with kids and puppets. I didn't just sit back and demand answers, I got involved and came to really enjoy their company, watching the two of them, getting to know them, their marriage and also I came to really enjoy puppets and kids as a side bonus. Observe the husband and how he treats and communicates to his wife and vice versa. Make mental notes. Just make sure its a two way street relationship, and not just you constantly wanting to leech something off them.  

- Read!
There are so many great books out there that can help you on this! Of course we now live in a time of information overload where theres a book on EVERYTHING under the sun. How does one sieve out the garbage from the really useful stuff. Or as Jesus said it - Separating the chaff from the wheat? First thing to NOT do - do not ask your peers indiscriminately what they're reading. Most likely what they're reading is stupid, esp if its about handsome, rich and abusive boyfriends, 100 year old glittery vampires, or if it starts with Cosmo and shows more skin than a playboy. You can do so much better than that. Your fore Mothers did not waste their time protesting for the right to give literacy to their daughters - YOU, so that you would go and read trash. By doing so you're spitting on their legacy and insulting your own intelligence. 

Reading good books starts with reliable sources. Again go to the older reputable women (and men!) in your church. While you're hanging out with them, ask them what they read or if they know of anyone else in the church who is discerning and well read. Im 26 now and I have a pretty extensive library for someone my age, but I still enjoy hearing about new books to search out from other godly women in my church. My husband thinks its weird but whenever I meet a preacher or teacher or anyone I respect, I always ask "What are you currently reading? Whats you're favorite book in your bookshelf?" Speaking of male recommendations, one of the BEST books I have ever read that helped me as a woman was a book written by a male Pastor for men and it was on Manhood ('Into the Wilderness' by John Eldredge if you must know). It was given to me by a male christian friend when I was 19, and it blew my mind away! From reading that book, it was like a light went off in my head and I had this knowledge of what on earth guys have to deal with when it comes to sin. It made me a much more understanding and compassionate woman and future wife to the man God placed in my life. When my husband walked into my life, I gave him my copy and his reaction after reading it was the same and now we own multiple copies of it and we just hand em out like candy! A good book is always worth sharing, and often the best ones are the ones we hear about by word of mouth. 

So anyway, what Im hoping to soon have on this blog is have a tab bar on the top of this blog and one of the tabs be called 'Books' which can link readers to a solid, discerning, organized list of books that are worthwhile to read. Or you could just add me as a friend on and check out my books there. You don't have to necessarily read marriage themed books to be positively impacted to be a better daughter of God, better daughter, sister, wife, friend. They help of course if anything is a good read, don't forget the bible is a great book too!

- Be mindful of the influence and choice of people you allow to be around you. Our choice of friends really says a lot about what we value. Lets just be honest, its easy to get inspired by your friends and its just as easy to be swayed into evil or "respectable" sins by those we call friends. If you used to be into partying, and drinking and not doing much else and your friends also did those activities along side you, what will happen if your life changed suddenly from those previous values? If getting drunk on the weekend was your illustration of meaning and fun in your life what happens if you get sick and you can't party anymore? What happens to the person who moves beyond partying and gets married and has some kids, and their only friends are people who now have no idea what's going on in their life? A level of closeness in that relationship is now gone, because they will no longer be able to identify with each other and suddenly the world becomes lonelier. Always strive to have friends in different age brackets. Having younger female friends will force you to often evaluate your behaviour and what you model (because you know someone is observing you and your Christian walk). Having older friends (by older I mean someone a generation or two older) will allow you to have a glimpse of whats coming up in life. All of this will change your thinking from YOLO to

To a certain degree this happened to me in highschool. I was dealing with some pretty horrific issues at home, and I sought out school as relief from pain. As I got older I noticed that my group of friends were more into talking about who was losing their virginity, or getting drunk on the weekend, or who was saying what about someone else. It was tiresome keeping up with who was apparently barred from our social group and who wasn't as it changed so often! And because I was extremely invested in getting into a specific career, whereby I had to make high grades and get into a particular college that was 500km away and not the local university everyone else was going to, I ended up spending a lot of my time in the library either crying in a corner over my home situation while trying to smother the pain with a novel or just plain studying. Im sure this absence and increasing standoffishness was noticed by the group and I definitely contributed to the move of being pushed out of that social group. I may have consented to that happening but it still felt like a hurtful low blow especially the gossip that I had to endure. It was an incredibly lonely time for me. I would not have coped with that period if it weren't for my then older boyfriend encouraging me on in my studies, my adult friends from church who prayed for me, my grandmother who knew my situation and was an ever present and gracious shoulder for me to lean on and my relationship with Jesus. Yeah I was walking through the valley but I knew he was right there with me. 

- Seek professional counseling/support if needed, preferably Christian. One of the biggest interventions in my life was in highschool and finding the courage to meet with a school counsellor. I was at a point where I frequently got funny looks from my peers and teachers from my close calls with falling apart. Occasionally I would just burst into tears for no reason. Or anger or just emotion. I remember a being in a class where domestic abuse was being discussed and a female classmate said the most irate, insensitive, ignorant and unintentionally cruel comment and given my home situation I knew she was completely wrong and I just flipped out and screamed at her. Knowing what she said was out of ignorance, and seeing my own response to a naive school girl's ignorance showed me that I needed help. I met with the school counselor and to my great joy I discovered that she was a Christian woman who deeply loved God and became a school counselor as her ministry calling. The list is too long with how that woman not only quietly discipled me but also taught me that I wasn't going crazy, there was a rhyme and a reason to what was happening and it wasn't in my head. She legitimized and helped me identify my pain and helped me see what I could do about it and who else I could bring into help. Another book I highly recommend to others is one that she gifted me and helped me see that I wasn't trapped, that I did have a choice about what was happening to me. And because of that book I was able to pray and dramatically and bravely overcome a near assault by my step father at the time from which he never physically touched me again. That book was 'Boundaries' by Dr. Cloud & Townsend. I have no idea what happened to that counselor, I can't even remember her name but I know she and her giftings and resources were a gift from God. nb - She also eventually helped me move out when the timing became right and appropriate and she supported me by telling me my spiritual and legal rights and govt supports that I was entitled to.

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