The Danger of {over} Psychologizing, Part 1

wp_20160902_013So, the thing is, we are human. (Just call me Captain Obvious!) We are physical, emotional, psychological beings who have loves, tastes, capabilities, weaknesses, and commitments. We also have work and accomplishments (the work of our hands), bodies, a thought life, homes, relationships, and a million other things that make up our selves and our days. Oh, and then there’s God. We have a heavenly Father who sent his Son as a human, just like us (I mean, as us. As in, he’s really a human. A real one. Who gets earthy and gross and has a definable personality. But, I digress), to  do a big work and to get us loving and working with him through the power of the Holy Spirit. wp_20160826_009When someone asks me “how are you”, I blubber around, trying to find a way to express a cohesive answer. I rarely want to express how I am right now, or even how I’ve been over a long period. It’s like I think the answer requires computation: take an average, starting from when I last saw them, until now, of “how I’ve been“. Then, boil it down into either “fine”, “great!”, or “bad”. Huh? Hence, the blubbering.

It seems to me that it is most often asked in order to get at my psychological state.  And, don’t get me wrong, psychology matters. But you know, I’m pretty sure it’s not the only thing that matters. When I see a dear friend who hasn’t been with me all day (ie: most of you, and my husband), what they really want to know is the state of me, as a Spirit filled human, and this encompasses much more than my psychological state of “ok”,”well”, “bad”, “annoyed”, “bitter-over-the-past”, “frazzled”, “angry-that-naps were-sub-par”, etc. wp_20160909_007

When Honey comes home from work and everything and everyone is a big, huge, tired mess, and dinner isn’t ready, I can honestly answer the question “How are you?” with, “HORRIBLE!” In the moment (actually, I admit, for at least an hour), it’s my psychological reality. I feel horrible. But that’s not all of reality! I mean, come on! Let’s look at the whole picture. We haven’t seen each other all day. I could mention an interesting thought that I had in prayer that morning. I could share an adorable video that I took of the kids. Heck, this would be awesome: I could simply hug the guy. And here’s the other end of the spectrum: I could reach way back in memory and say that 3 hours ago, I cleaned the toilet and was tickled pink over the accomplishment. I could thank him for taking out the trash without being asked. I could ask him how they are solving that one problem at work. Sometimes, I say something like “I don’t know how I am, but are we free on Saturday morning to help the Smiths move?”

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In conclusion, I want to say that I am currently quite frazzled, have almost cried 4 times today, and feeling very over committed. However, what I scheduled for this time is to de-clutter the basement, and, if possible, clean the bathroom. So, THAT is how I am doing. Right now. How I am doing is what I am doing.

Amen!

Love, MMC

 

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Welcoming Difficulties?

One word to describe this photo? GUTS. Because that is the most daring word my 4 year old can come up with, and I love it.
One word to describe this photo? GUTS. Because that is the most daring word my 4 year old can come up with, and I love it.

Heeeeellllloooooo fellow mamas!

I regret that I have not been able to write consistently… I have had a terrible time formulating posts amidst the giggles and grime of keeping up with the kiddlets. So I finally decided to go with what MC said in her previous post and get some life on this here page. AND to top it all off, I am writing this, in part, during my prayer time. Yep. Me and Jesus, typin’ together. Sometimes I really struggle with what to do during my prayer time. I like to mix it up…I don’t stick with one method for too long…and this can lead to difficulties with indecision. So I going with what Sheila described in this post about actually making a decision. And it feels great. Onward!

One thing that has been on my mind a lot is that my life as of late: life surrounding marriage and motherhood has seemed to follow a progression that in the eyes of…I don’t know…those who have gone before…. is not highly recommended if one wants to be able to keep it all together. Have you ever heard that it’s not the greatest idea to do all the following within a year: get married, start a family, make a major out-of-state-away-from-all-family-and-friends move to start a new job and buy a house? Mmm. Hmmm.

You see, when I hear a list of such things, I have to laugh to myself because the chronology of marriage and family life shows my little family to be among the ones who regularly ‘break the rules’. This has, in turn, caused me to think about “the rules”. There are excellent reasons why all of that is not recommended, and yet that is sometimes just how life goes. I know we are not alone. I have many friends who have gone through similar situations, and it seems to often happen to the people I know and love when they let the Lord take the reigns on life. Sometimes I look back and wonder how in the world we made it through those times. But truly there is no question in my mind – it was the Lord’s guiding hand and never failing strength.

When my husband and I were engaged the Lord put it on our hearts, independently, to move half way across the country. So we discerned the desire and started praying for direction and applying for jobs. Marriage happened, and then pregnancy amidst suspected infertility (a true miracle to be shared at another time). With pregnancy came hyperemesis gravidarum, and just as I got over that came out-of-state training for the new job (where I could not live with my husband). Our daughter was born right in the middle of training and then we were assigned to Oklahoma….not at all where we intended to live – or where we initially thought the Lord was calling us.

But you see, when I look at that account of how our life together progressed – down to the very day certain things happened- I see a list of prayers being answered. One thing after another being ticked off the list. And not only that but I can reflect on those moments and see growth. I had to trust the Lord more than ever before during those times. I had zero control over every major part of life: Our living situation – didn’t have our own place to live the entire first year of our marriage and until after our daughter was born. Finances – due to hyperemesis I suddenly had to quite working. Our future living situation – my husband being subject to assignments. My role in the family -could we afford to have me stay home with the kids? Healthcare for myself and the baby was very last minute – I had to switch providers in the last weeks of pregnancy when my husband started training and we went through about a month without any insurance at all. I couldn’t even guarantee that my husband would make it to the birth without losing his spot in his training class (another story of miracles), and I was unable to live with him at the end of my pregnancy or for the first 8 weeks of our daughter’s life. I learned a lot about letting go. A Lot.

We certainly ended up in some of those situations by asking the Lord to work and change things for us – they were things that we knew we would go through in order to get to where we felt the Lord was leading us. But we also ended up in surprising situations through the cascade of events that followed the things that were expected.

I am currently reading the book Interior Freedom by Jacques Philippe. Philippe talks about accepting the situations that you find yourself in that are not within your control – in particular, accepting difficulties/suffering.

He says, “The subject needs to be handled carefully. It is not a matter of becoming passive and learning to endure everything, without reacting. But whatever projects we have and however well we plan them, many times situations that are beyond our control and involve a whole host of events contrary to our expectations, hopes, and desires occur, and we must accept it.” Furthermore he goes on to talk about not accepting grudgingly, but freely resigning to and welcoming the situation, aka ‘choosing’ it even when it might truly be that we have no choice – which is of course especially hard in really painful trials. Philippe talks about how it requires following the Lord in faith and hope, and truly “believing him capable of drawing good out of whatever befalls us…” That if we can follow the Lord thus, He will draw out the good. Philippe calls this a fundamental truth.

As I have read through the book, I have really felt that Philippe’s words have shed great light on why it doesn’t matter if our family life follows the ‘rules’…and even more so that the ‘rules’ are the very things that don’t matter. What matters is that my husband and I are seeking the Lord and discerning His will. What matters is that I continue to offer my life and the control of it to the only one who has any control over it. It used to make me feel uneasy and out of control knowing that we were tackling so many things at once, and that there never seemed to be any slow-down to the things that needed tackling. But I am finding now that I have more confidence in navigating the challenges of life knowing without a doubt that I am doing what the Lord has for me to be doing. Did you know that you can be 100% confident about such things? I feel I am constantly seeing that truth burn brighter. Additionally, it is true in every situation that I mentioned above – good or bad – easy or hard – that the Lord has indeed brought about good. Mentioning all of the good would take several posts at least!

Now, I would not say that I have really experienced any truly painful suffering – especially compared to what I have witnessed others going through. This post is not at all to say that I feel I have the ‘choosing’ of difficulties and sufferings down by any means. In fact, I am currently finding myself challenged in a huge way as we have moved half way across the country (again!) with two kids this time…3 months ago…and we still do not have a house…and school is starting in 2 weeks…and I want to choose to accept these challenges – to embrace them! I find myself wondering how to do that from day to day…or if I am doing it…A work in progress. Always a work in progress. One step at a time, mamas.

I hope you find this encouraging! Anything to add? Please post below!

Over and out.

Mary D.

Did We Give the Kid the Wrong Name?

 Image courtesy of kangshutters at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of kangshutters at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I’ve often thought that I am most like Martha (as in Lazaras’ task anxious, task oriented sister), not Mary. When is the last time I sat, much less sat at the feet of someone? Sat and listened? Um, what is that? What does it look like?  I have no idea! Trouble is, my honest to goodness name is “Mary”. I am not Martha by the simple fact that “Martha” is not my name. “But I seam like Martha. I act like her. I don’t naturally act like Mary. “Mary” doesn’t fit as my name”, or so my thoughts go.

When we named our son, a large part of me wanted his middle name, Joseph, to be his first name. I accidentally called him Joseph many times in the first months after he was born.  Furthermore, an alarming number of friends, who don’t know my preference, occasionally call Joshua by his middle name! Every time this happens, I think, “We’ve made a big mistake! His natural name is Joseph! Besides, I just plain prefer the name Joseph.” And then I start to think about making it a big discussion with my husband to do a legal change of his name, and how much that would probably cost, and all the trouble of explaining it to people, and then I doubt it would be the right thing to do, and then I feel a little depressed and I give up. Until the next time someone calls him Joseph.

But as we were rough housing/snuggling recently, I realized that my heart whispers “Joshua”. That is his rightful name. It just is. And, really, deep down, I’d rather him be named after the big kahuna, because I’d rather him emulate the big kahuna, than anyone else. (Jesus is the big kahuna. ‘Joshua’ is thought to be a close derivation of the Hebrew.) Similarly, as logical and real as it seems for me to be Martha, I’d rather emulate Mary, as Jesus encourages us to do in Luke 10:41-42.

It reminds me of

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. (Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love, 1992)

Every time I read the above, I realize just how true this is for me. The resemblance is uncanny. I tend to go around town falling over backwards to keep people from having any conflict with me. It sometimes gets so bad, that I often assume that anything I ask of them will be a big inconvenience. And so I don’t ask for any favors, and I don’t even ask them any questions. And so we just sit there trying to keep my kids alive and agreeing on everything.

Names are a gift we give our children. Literally. “Rebecca” was the only Christmas present our first received. It was only 2 months before she was born, we needed to just pick a name already, and as soon as Erik ticked it off his list, I knew that it was the perfect name for that little being who I had been calling “Trouble”. (I’ll write some time about the nearly 7 months of bed rest during that pregnancy.) I think it was the Holy Spirit inspiring us to give her that specific name.

In a similar way, my name inspires me. I have to assume that my parents knew what they were doing when they gave it to me, and the grace that this points to is something I can lean on when my task-oriented nature rears it’s ugly head. God our Father has given my this name. And as Joshua grows, we will teach him more and more about living out his name. Choosing a Holy Spirit inspired name is really a very simple, yet deeply meaningful way to bring the Lord’s light to the world. May we all grow into our names more and more.

Amen.

Miss Mary Clare