We all want to love and be loved! For a lot of us this begins in a healthy way, having parents who love us unconditionally. Parental unconditional love tends to be passed down to kids. When I am loved with grace by my parents, it’s easier to then love my kids or my significant other or my friends.
But when we are harmed by conditional love or worse by abusive behavior, it’s even difficult to love myself. If I can’t even love me, how can I love my neighbor.
Knowing and experiencing the love of my creator parent helps me to have a healthy understanding of God. Whatever your concept of God is right now, it’s been influenced by your parents and how they loved you. There’s no “getting around” that!!
So – how do we get through this??
A lot us respond to this love deficit by becoming the best friend of everybody. We try to rescue the world and in a sense buy the love we need. Ideas about codependency aren’t new, but how do get off this unhealthy track.
Most of us need some meetings or some counseling in order to begin to listen to self for a change and begin to accommodate self instead of everyone else. It’s a difficult process to begin to slow down and turn the ship of codependency. The icebergs are everywhere.
So many of the Christians that I work with in the counseling office really have trouble applying GRACE to themselves. It seems most of us can apply a little grace to another person, but we really have a tough time applying grace to the self.
I had a tough time learning this and I still slip up a lot after many years of knowing the grace of God. I am rough on ME. I should know better. But I’ll let someone else “slide,” as long as they don’t affect me with their “mess.”
We are so good at returning to perfection and the law. The book of Galatians is the apostle Paul’s treatise on this bad habit.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1)
What’s the yoke of slavery that Paul is talking about?? In chapter 4, he discusses the two symbols of the two covenants, Hagar and Sarah. Hagar being Mount Sinai corresponding to the first century Jerusalem who are still in bondage (to the law, hence Sinai). And Sarah representing the covenant of promise, fulfilled in Jesus.
When we keep trying to go back and be perfect all on our own, we are returning to Sinai.
I hear some Christians understand the verse (5:1) to mean that we are not to return to the yoke of sin. The fact that we will sin in this life is a given. We cannot stop that! What we can begin to stop – is constantly returning to the law to take my “beatings” there.
If Jesus has set me free, then let me endeavor to stay free!! He died for my freedom, freedom from the law, freedom from a law that is burdensome and hopeless.
Like William Wallace, we must fight to stay free!! We are in a world that has a habit of bringing slavery and control and perfectionism and comparisons and inequalities. We must first fight for our freedom and then work to free others. Wallace couldn’t help to free Scotland from the tyranical English king unless he first felt free in his heart!
He could then have a Brave Heart!
I’ve found myself saying to my clients a lot in the last few weeks that we “can’t fight every battle” … or that we need to decide if this is a “mountain that we want to die on!!”
Well that’s what this well-used Twelve Step phrase is all about. When we are hit with something, when we are angry about how someone has hurt us … we can remember to ask the question … how important is this … in order to help decide what to do next. If I let something go that’s a good option.
But if I can’t let something go without building up resentments, then its time to confront the issue. The primary question then is … how important is this?
Some of us have this habit of stuffing everything and then building up resentments and possible depression. Others will confront every issue and seem like they’re always fighting battles, always angry and possibly anxious about the next fight. So if we learn to ask this question – we could learn to be healthier. If its not that important, I can let it go … not stuff it!! And if its more important and I know that I’ll build up angst if I try to let it go, then I confront the issue … instead of fighting all the time.
Learning to ask myself this question has helped me to get perspective on issues and its helped me to stop stuffing it, since I tended to err on that side. I needed perspective to learn if dealing with the issue would be healthier for me rather than trying to “let go.” I needed to learn to set boundaries in healthy ways and needed to let go in a way that wouldn’t hurt me. sb