A Discouraged Child

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

On Sunday I read Colossians, and one of the verses struck me – boldly affirming of how well God knows us and our natures, the immediate and lasting value of loving relationships, as well as the gift of finding new words in God’s timeless messages to us.

I was reading the verses around this one, the ones made more familiar by weddings and sermons; then when reading about parent/child relationships I heard consequences that God felt grave enough to mention it here for the ages: a discouraged child.

I know exactly what that looks like – in me, in those I love, and in the life of friends who experienced childhood abandonments (passive and not-so-passive) and it is not right. Enough not right that God chose these particular words (in this translation anyway) to vehemently call it out as a “don’t do”!

He could have said: don’t provoke lest your child will not turn out right, abandon you, shame you, be filled with demons or be burned up like dry grass. But He didn’t. Simply and concisely God reminds us of the generational consequences of our actions, and the importance of a parent’s role in protecting a child’s sense of encouragement in themselves, their purposes and their faith.

This Book is filled with God’s Word that strikes an ear with newness and love when I look for relatable issues and problems and loving support and suggestions. Today the main take away for me is: God does not want us to be, or become, discouraged – at least not as a result of a parent’s selfish/self-willed provoking ways.

That’s a gem worth looking for on a Sunday morning.

Why does it feel so wrong when we do something so right?

Today I had a bittersweet visit with a friend who had to say no to what at first appeared to be a promising new relationship. Darn it. I hated that it wasn’t going to work out for her, and once again I marvel at the courage I see in her saying “no” when “yes” would have been so much more fun.

At least for a little while.

It made me think: why do we get thrown these emotional curve balls when we are trying to change self-sabotaging patterns in relationships with food, with money, with others and with ourselves? And, why does it feel so wrong when we do something so right?

I believe it is common for the universe (and I don’t really mean God here) to deploy decoys during the early stages of going into a new direction; practicing new behaviors in old dysfunctional fields of habits. It’s a human, just-how-this-works kind of thing. When options come up that look like invitations to return or keep the old, like when an old boyfriend calls or a way too-expensive-for-our budget couch goes on sale, I don’t see it anymore as some maniacal testing of faith.

With faith in ourselves and the decisions we made in saner moments, these alluring teasers can be soulfully-lead opportunities to review and renew our commitment to our higher selves. And a time to ask again, “Is this what I really want now, and for the long haul”? “Is this a path to better ways or a course of choices paved in illusions of least resistance”?

The temptress becomes the teacher when we can pause in willingness to listen for the voice of our soul, and wage today’s discomfort against tomorrow’s peace.

After the initial exciting glee or disappointment, depending on what I allow my true self to hear, I have a chance of welcoming the “no” as practice and “yes” as a statement that I do choose the healthier option. The yes becomes a choice in reinforcing new ideals, where I want to be, and declaring to the universe and to myself that “Yes! This new path is what I want, and I am willing to risk and experience the uncomfortable feelings that may come with change!”

Where God comes in (and here I do mean God) is right beside me to help me first see the truth and value in saying no, then to bring on the power to actually say no, with comfort as Counselor of gentle assurances that something better is coming my way.

Something or someone even more loving becomes possible because I am willing to experience the pain of a no for the potential joy of the yes.

The saying “you are being dramatic” was used when I was a discouraged child in tears of disappointment, abandonment or disregard, or the artistic young woman in love who wanted to see New York City. Worse though was the silence that asked me to avoid and deny what was breaking my heart or what I didn’t understand. It didn’t work then, and now if I listen to the language of old it is the beginning of a death march towards depression and self-imposed denial of who and what I am.

So now when the old shows up, by invitation to say yes to a past that I know in my heart-of-hearts has not changed for the good, or suggestion to swallow feelings and stay silent and quiet when my heart is full of pain or joy, I am practicing saying no to the stagnant stillness, and saying yes to the whispering song of my Soul.

And when the yes to the good feels more wrong than the no, we can do this together with ideal in hand and God in our hearts.

Welcome to this space – a gathering place for the mind, body and soul.