Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a difficult task, yet necessary in our everyday lives. There is a common misconception when it comes to forgiveness, this misconception is that by forgiving others we are condoning negative or hurtful behaviors, that by forgiving we are showing weakness. Both ideologies are incorrect. The bible states ” For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. (Matthew 6:14 AMP)” I believe the point of this scripture is that, our goal is to be God like, and in doing so we have to practice forgiveness. God constantly and consistently forgives us of our sin, so we must do the same to those in our lives.

Practicing forgiveness releases us from internal pain, forgiveness allows us to move away from the past and embrace our future, while being productive during our present. Holding ourselves in un-forgiveness is the equivalent of living in a prison, it propels us into being unproductive. Forgiving others takes strength and courage, it does not mean that we allow others to mistreat us or that we allow others to abuse us. It simply means that we move on with our lives, we learn from the past, and we don’t worry about whether or not others will hurt us. We simply live in the peace and joy that God has granted all of us. Don’t allow yourself to live in the prison of un-forgiveness.

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Toxic Parents

Ideally parents are supposed to teach, love, and protect their children. Sometimes parents lack the ability in any of the above  mentioned duties. Parents should value and cultivate their children, but unfortunately some parents are very toxic. By toxic I mean abusive and neglectful, abusive by means of verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional withholding or parental neglect. Some children are lucky enough to receive help in repairing those old wounds of abuse, but what about the children who are not rescued, counseled, or engage in spiritual healing? Well they turn into adults who may someday have children of their own. The question then becomes how do adults avoid becoming a toxic parent? Well lets identify all the ways one can be a toxic parent and then we will examine ways to recover from toxic parenting.

The following should be considered toxic parenting:

  1. Verbal abuse in the form of criticism, yelling, name calling, cursing, discouraging your child, overall negativity. Ex. “you are useless” “you are stupid” “you are not smart enough to do that” “I wish you were never born” “I don’t like you”
  2. Sexual abuse in the form of touching, forcing a child to watch pornography, sexual intercourse, forcing a child to watch adults have sex etc.
  3. Neglect in the forms of not providing adequate food or shelter, meeting the adults needs before the child’s. Ex. buying food or clothes for adults but not the child, leaving children unattended in order to hang out socially, withholding emotional affection/emotionally unavailable.
  4. Physical abuse in the forms of hitting, beating with objects which leave long-lasting bruises, yelling, all punishments are physical, slapping a child, punching a child, pushing into furniture for mere infractions that are age appropriate.
  5. Untreated mental illness in which the child suffers because the parent is suffering from depression, mood disorders etc. the parent refuses to be medicated and refuses mental health counseling. Untreated mental illness leaves the child to suffer with abrupt moods, extreme anger, witnessing suicide attempts etc.
  6. Substance abuse which leaves the child witnessing parental black outs, drug and alcohol abuse by many adults within the home (parties), drug selling, neglect because the family finances are used to obtain drugs or alcohol. All of this can leave the child with trust issues, developmental issues (if use occurs during pregnancy), co-dependency issues, etc.
  7. Manipulating and controlling parents who constantly manipulate their children to fulfill their own agendas such as using guilt trips, using money to control children, using religion to inflict guilt etc.

Ways to recover from toxic parenting:

  1. Adults recovering from toxic parenting should seek mental health and spiritual counseling.
  2. Create boundaries such as staying away from those who have or continue to abuse or mistreat you.
  3. Self reflection exercises: listing your good qualities, volunteer work that makes you feel worthy and needed, and showcases your talents.
  4. Journal often, this helps to regulate feelings and is good for releasing anger.
  5. Learn the art of prayer and meditation.
  6. Join a support group.
  7. Surround yourself around positive people who love and support you in your goals, and who can help further your goals in life.
  8. Seek a mentor, a person who is healthy and possibly have overcome the same type of experience with toxic parents.

Marital Insecurity

What causes one to feel secure or insecure within a marital or committed relationship? Security or insecurity could be based upon the quality of the relationship and individual issues such as mental health, medical, or relationship issues. Adults, like children thrive better when they feel secure and can somewhat predict their daily routine, and response to their emotional needs. When thinking about security, the quality of the relationship is also important.  Security could be based upon individual issues that each of us carry inside.  Like security, insecurity, could also be relationship based. Insecurity could be the result of mistreatment in the relationship.

Ideally, when we enter into relationships we want, crave, and expect to feel secure with our significant other. But holding our significant others accountable for our total security could be dangerous and a difficult task for them to accomplish.  Such things like infidelity, abuse, and personal baggage could promote insecurity.  Also, those who do not have a connection to God, may feel less secure.

Examine yourself within the context of your relationship, and ask yourself whether or not you feel secure.  Regardless of the answer, next ask yourself why do you feel secure or insecure.  What could you do to promote security in your relationship? What major factors lead to insecurity in relationships? The following list may be helpful,

Ways to promote Security:

  • Being open and honest
  • Being loving to your spouse
  • Being trustworthy to your spouse
  • Having a significant relationship with God
  • Taking responsibility for your own happiness

Signs of Insecurity:

  • Chronic unhappiness
  • Chronic neediness
  • Inability to control emotions
  • Low self-esteem
  • Constant critical words toward others

“The Marital Misconception”

Often I hear individuals and couples state that they are not happy in their relationships, and divorce becomes a quick remedy to problems that are often deep seeded. I’m starting to think that the idea of marriage is entered into under a misconception. There are many valid reasons for divorce such as abuse and addiction, but, my concern is that marriages cannot survive a minimum of five years in many cases. Where are the communication and problem solving skills that were once used to maintain long-lasting marriages? What sort of happiness are those who have short-lived marriages looking for? I am a firm believer that your spouse cannot be the source of your happiness. Perhaps more time should be spent creating happiness before marriage, and developing a relationship with God; which is where I believe true happiness originates.

The misconception comes from the idea that everyday spent married will be full of happiness and joy, and there will never be any conflict or sorrow. Wrong, marriage is a 24/7 job responsibility, it takes a considerable amount of work. There are many cycles in marriage such as adding children, growing older, children leaving the home, retiring, and loosing parents to illness and other reasons. The Family Cycle requires understanding, maturity, dedication, a relationship with God, and a certain level of selflessness.

What misconceptions have you created in your marriage? How have these misconceptions affected your marriage?